Shootings among scenarios that staff, students prepare for at Hawaii public schools

Hawaii public schools undergo five emergency preparedness drills each school year, including what to do in an active-shooter situation.

The state has never had a school shooting, but the Department of Education prepares for the worst to happen.

Lockdown drills are performed once a year. Schools state-wide partner with police departments.

Police decide where and when to conduct a simulation of an active-shooter situation.

Faculty are trained to bring students to a safe space to hunker down while police investigate the threat.

During lockdown, no one can enter or leave campus.

The DOE says parents must stay away from the school until police give the all-clear.

“Whenever there’s a rumor, parents might panic and grab their child, which is understandable, but that causes more of a security threat to the scene,” said DOE spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz. “So a lockdown means no one comes in, and no one comes out.”

Wednesday’s school shooting in Florida has Hawaii counselors and crisis teams on standby.

“With an event like this, it can cause some emotional trauma. We recognize that,” Dela Cruz said.

“It’s a very alarming idea that in public places, people would go in and commit mass shootings. It would be a danger that we become desensitized to it because of the simple frequency of it,” said clinical and forensic psychologist Marvin Acklin.

Acklin says it’s important to talk to students about school shootings.

“The first and foremost remedy for the traumatic stress is the support you receive from those around you. It helps human beings to formulate their experiences to communicate their experiences. It’s therapeutic,” he said.

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