How Colorado is keeping kids safe from school shootings
Why it matters: Tuesday's killing of 19 students and 2 teachers in Uvalde, Texas, resurfaced all-too-familiar fears in Colorado about the safety of our children, fears born from our wrenching memories of young lives cut short at Columbine, Arapahoe and STEM.
Threat level: The silver lining from our deep experience with mass shootings is a heightened emphasis on violence prevention, says Christine Harms, director of the state's School Safety Resource Center.
- Just about every district in the state deploys a threat assessment team to identify at-risk students, and $30 million went toward hardening schools in recent years.
What's new: In March, the center released crisis response guidelines crafted by school security experts, mental health providers and first responders to help local schools better prepare for major emergencies — a first-of-its-kind document, officials believe.
- The plan advises administrators to update crisis operation plans annually; form a safety team to oversee logistics, psychological triage and mental health support; and conduct training drills regularly.
- Another critical component of preparation, per the report, is developing a communication plan with emergency responders, staff, students and families.
What they're saying: "I think Colorado has some of the safest schools in the country but nobody can guarantee that this kind of thing can't happen again, unfortunately," Harms tells us.
Yes, but: More resources are necessary, officials say. In 2018, school officials requested $60 million in security upgrades, but the state only provided enough money to meet half the demand.
- Another $6 million is earmarked in a bill signed Monday by Gov. Jared Polis, but it still won't hit the requested number, officials said.
Details: Some of the most vulnerable schools are located in rural areas, not unlike Robb Elementary in Texas. And of the 178 school districts in Colorado, 146 are rural.
- Many rural schools lack the security infrastructure — cameras and classroom door locks — to protect students and the mental health resources to intervene, Harms says.
Of note: A spokesperson for Denver Public Schools declined to answer questions from Axios Denver about what it's doing to protect students, but said the district has policies in place.
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