Milford increases awareness of safety protocols

Karen Danner, Staff Writer

Within the past few years, the risk of gun violence in schools has become more prominent in the public spotlight. Since 2013, there have been 142 incidents of a firearm being discharged on school grounds, according to a study performed by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

While it is still highly unlikely an event would occur at Milford High School, the school is making efforts to be as prepared as possible.

“As times change, school systems need to adapt to protect their staff and students. It’s inevitable, but we have to be ready for anything,” Milford Police Liaison Eric DeLanoy stated.

“Lockdown drills” are just one of the changes Milford is making. The school no longer will refer to this term for simple cases where the hallways need to be cleared and students must be in their classroom. If the term “lockdown” is used, it now means that there is an immediate danger to staff and students in the building, either environmental or human threats.

Shelter in Place drills are considered new as they’ve only been introduced within the past month. What was previously considered a ¨lockdown¨ is now known as a ¨shelter in place drill.”When the hallways need to be cleared for different reasons and students remain in their classrooms as if nothing is going on, this will be used when there isn’t an immediate threat to staff and students.

There are benefits to using the term “shelter in place.¨

“It gives more clarity on the drill,” said Assistant Principal Eric Dziobak. “Before, a lockdown could be anything from something as serious as a gunman to just when the drug dogs are brought in. This just gives lockdowns more importance as they refer to serious matters. It’s not that shelter in place drills are less important, but they happen for less serious reasons.”

“After working within the building to push the new safety procedures, a program is created and presented to the Board Office for approval,” added Dziobak. “At Milford, it’s been nearly a year since we’ve put our safety precautions into place.”

After learning the new procedures, teachers responded in various  ways.

“We needed to learn how to deal with it because it’s something that we have to live with,” said Kaye Sommer, a teacher at Milford, who added, “We never know how serious a threat is.”

Schools have a mandated number of drills that they are required to practice throughout the year. MHS has at least five fire drills, three emergency drills, and two tornado drills, Dziobak said. According to Dziobak, “We have more drills than what the state requires as we want to be sure that everyone knows what to do and how to react.”

These changes were a recommendation from the state of Michigan after Homeland Security and the state conducted research that showed better results with the terminology of ¨shelter in place¨ over ¨lockdown.¨

Fire drills are nothing new to the students in Huron Valley. No matter the outside weather, the building is evacuated and everyone stands a safe distance from the building. Every class stands together and teachers take attendance while waiting for the all clear. After the administration gives the all clear, students stream back into the building and return to class.

Tornado drills are also something that the student body is familiar with. The whole point is to get away from anything that could be a projectile in the tornado’s path. This includes all windows and glass, and anything else that could be moved such as desks, tables, chairs and computers. Students are generally in the hallways, crouched down and facing the lockers and walls,  on their knees with their hands locked over the neck to protect their spine if something fell on them. Again, the administration gives an all clear and students return to class.

In all, these drills are used to help make Milford High School a safe environment.