Protecting Their Students
Teachers must often act first to protect their students in an emergency.
"That is my primary fear as a teacher," said Helen Cope, an Oakland Junior High teacher. "How do I keep all those kids safe and protected? And you become kind of the parent in that situation making sure that they're all going to be okay."
Officials say even though school violence is rare, they want to be prepared.
"When Columbia Public Schools is in session, a fifth of our population are sitting in these school buildings. It makes a ripe target, and so we need to know how are we going to respond to an incident that happens in a school," said John Warner, school resource officer.
The training ground was heavily secured to make sure plans are kept a secret. Police officers had to check their guns at the door to make sure no real guns were inside the building. The fake guns that shot paintballs, however, could still hurt.
Before crossing police tape surrounding the schools, participants first put on protective gear like helmets or safety glasses. Teachers watched four mock scenarios and learned strategies for each one. The training doesn't show how to keep intruders out, but rather how to stop an intruder that's already inside.
"I think this training will let me be more prepared, and I'll understand what's going on and be able to follow directions," said Cope, "and also understand why I'm following them, and I'll be able to help the kids more effectively."
Teachers also learned how to look for escape routes like doors and windows. The training will continue on Wednesday and Friday at Lange Middle School and West Junior High.