KPBSD protocols regularly reviewed after school shootings elsewhere

Mar 20, 2018

There was another school shooting in America today (Tuesday). Two students in a Maryland high school were injured when their 17-year-old classmate opened fire with a handgun in a school hallway. It's just the latest in an increasing trend that has seen hundreds of thousands protest a lack of gun control nationwide.

People say, "it can't happen here," but Bethel had a school shooting over 20 years ago. The safety of students and staff is not being taken for granted, according to Pegge Erkeneff, spokeswoman for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

"We do have protocols for safety and for active shooters or intruders on campus in place that we've been working on for several years. Again, whenever anything happens we review everything we're doing. We look at how we can increase and do better," she said. "We need our schools to be safe places. The conversation is really relevant and at the forefront right now."

She said that on Monday, the school central office tested a text-based alert system with district staff. She said in a few weeks parents will be contacted with information about how to "opt-in" for that same alert.

And that's just one of the things Erkeneff says the district has implemented.

"So there's lots of things the public doesn't necessarily see, but we are doing as much as we can to work with school safety," she said. "And we're talking with our borough mayor about different things that we could potentially implement that may require funding, but things that we can also put into place to make our schools be as safe as possible."

Kenai Peninsula schools were on spring break last week when there was a nationwide student walkout for 17 minutes, one for each victim in the recent Florida massacre, so no students here could participate. But Erkeneff says some students and principals are involved.

"We have had students be engaged and we've had principals work with those students so it doesn't affect the instructional day, and to be able to have the students to have their voices heard in a respectful way," Erkeneff said.

There is a nationwide march scheduled for Saturday to coincide with a march on the nation's capital protesting gun violence in schools.

The school district has emergency guidelines for parents and guardians posted on the district's website, and users of the KPBSD mobile app get emergency updates automatically from the central office.