Public schools in New York City are expanding active shooter training to pre-K, 3-K and other early childhood programs, Department of Education officials said Wednesday.
School Chancellor David Banks announced the new preparation for staff who care for the Big Apple’s students under the age of 5 during a press conference in Queens before the start of school on Thursday.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to be in a place where even early childhood providers — those who work with our babies — need to receive a level of training to be prepared for the potential of being an active shooter in the facility,” he told Martin -Van Buren High School.
Banks cited horrifying incidents across the country — including the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas last spring.
“That’s the reality we’re facing,” he told reporters. “We have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to be as ready as possible to provide some level of safety for everyone.”
Parents and educators had mixed opinions about expanding the education to programs for the city’s youngest students.
“I think it’s wise for all schools to train their teachers so they’re prepared for any type of event — especially if a school doesn’t have adequate safety precautions in place,” said West Village mom Tara Murphy, who also used to teach this age group .
“While they’re scary and unsettling to even fathom, I felt empowered as a teacher to know we had a plan. As a parent of young children, I want to know that my children’s teachers also feel secure in their plan,” she said.
However, Murphy added that schools need to be sensitive to not “triggering” children’s anxiety, especially in the wake of the pandemic.
An executive at a child care center in the Bronx, speaking anonymously without a DOE permit, completed the training over the summer and told The Post it was “productive” – but said other discrepancies in school safety “need to be addressed.”
“One of the concerns I’ve always had is that center-based programs — unlike school-based programs — don’t have school safety officers assigned,” the principal said.
“So when we talk about the safety of all students and families, it’s best if the centers also have access to the same level and safety as a school,” she added.
The DOE also officially unveiled new school safety measures that will begin in the fall, which were first reported by The Post last month.
More safety officers will be added throughout the school year, including three new classes beginning training this month and in January and May. A total of around 600 agents can be added over the term.
Families also have access to real-time push notifications in the event of lockdowns, shelters and evacuations.
“A lot of you will remember what happened in Sunset Park,” Banks said, referring to last spring’s subway shooting that led to on-site shelter orders at nearby schools. “And when this incident happened, the schools that were in close proximity to the incident were outraged. The parents of the children in these schools were in despair. And many of them had to wait to hear what was going on in the news.”
“We want to put them in a position where they don’t have to wait for the local news to know exactly what’s going on,” he added.
The messaging platform is the same technology that was introduced to replace the products of Illuminate Education – the company that was at the center of a student data breach last school year.
Staff from school facilities also inspect 1,400 buildings to ensure all security systems are working – from door locks to alarms and PA systems. The team identified 1,300 problems in the schools and expects all to be addressed before students return to school on Thursday.
Banks told reporters that officials are in “very close contact” with companies developing technology that is less intrusive but can detect guns and other types of weapons.
“Maybe this is the year where we will finally get to a place where this technology is fully developed and we will be able to make this type of investment,” he said.
The DOE has also invested in student welfare in hopes that students who are “fully emotionally supported” will be less likely to get into trouble.
Officials pointed to a new initiative that is making contracts with previously volunteer violence interrupters in nearly 140 high-need schools, which are due to be announced in the “coming days” – while central staff will be assigned to district offices to bring social workers closer to students and families to introduce.
https://nypost.com/2022/09/07/nyc-schools-expand-active-shooter-training-to-pre-k-programs/ NYC schools are expanding active shooter training into pre-K programs