Local School District Acting to Prepare, Prevent Shootings Inside Buildings

DULUTH, Minn. – The recent mass shooting inside an elementary school building in Uvalde, Texas, the deadliest since Sandy Hook in 2012, has school districts across the country reviewing their own ways to prevent and react to similar situations.  That is also the case in the Northland.

“I think it’s a heartbreaking situation for staff, for students, for families alike,” says Duluth Public Schools Superintendent John Magas.  “I think that our hearts all go out to the people in Texas right now for what they are dealing with, and also for the victims of other school violence in other areas that we’ve seen throughout the country throughout the past few years.”

Magas says they have made intruder drills as common as those for fire and severe weather, with reviews done and changes made to ensure everyone is prepared to act properly if necessary.  “What we try to assure our students and families of is that by being better prepared in safe times, makes it so that we are better able to react if there’s ever an unforeseen incident.”

Additional safety steps the district has taken include making it harder for people to enter buildings through locked doors and buzzer systems, having a strong mental health support system for students, and running programs that focus on positive behavior intervention.

Magas adds it’s also important that parents and guardians of students do their part to reach out for help and services if they notice their child is struggling with school violence.  He also wants the district to have an open environment so that any threats can be share before they may be acted upon.  “It’s the relationships that really matter.  Either the relationships where somebody might open up to a trusted adult in the building about something that they might have on their mind.  Or maybe it’s a friend or companion of one of the students that might be considering an act of violence.  That’s when we are able to make those connections.”

Overall, Magas says the district is doing all that it can to help students get the support they need when events like what occurred in Texas dominate the news.  “I feel there’s always more we could do, but we always try to do the most we can. Again, I think it’s important for us in times like this to really reflect on what could we do differently, how can we do this better, how could we reach out more.”

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