(WXYZ) — It was not business as usual in Novi Public Schools and Royal Oak Public Schools Monday as all classes were canceled so all staff members could review safety protocols for an active shooter.
But perhaps more important than learning when to run, hide, or fight is knowing the importance of listening, said Dr. RJ Webber, Assistant Superintendent of Academic Services for the Novi Community School District.
“We want to make sure that tomorrow, that we are already and feel confident in having any kind of conversations that might need to happen,” Webber said.
“Truly, the way this works is hurt people hurt people. People who are not connected to people hurt people,” Webber told 7 Action News. “We need to create our public community schools to be places where kids feel connected, where adults feel connected, where we can have a relationship with students that if they’re hurting, that they look at us as trusted and safe to be with.”
Royal Oak Police Officer Joe Yerke, the Royal Oak Public Schools liaison officer, spends most of his time at the middle school and high school, and Monday he spoke to the entire staff in the district about their safety measures that have also been in place for several years.
“If they’ve been a teacher for 15 years, you know, they’re 15 years into their career, and now they have to start training almost like a police officer to be able to handle these situations.,” Yerke said.
Some of what Yerke reviewed for the staff Monday included ALICE Training which has been tailored for those working with kindergarten to 12th-grade students.
ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. And according to the company that provides the training to school districts across the country, there are times when more than a lockdown is needed to keep people safe.
“When facing extreme violence, a passive lockdown-only response may not always keep us safe. In fact, it’s no longer the preferred response of federal and state agencies. People need options to respond based on their circumstances. Proactive options-based strategies help them feel empowered to make the best decision rather than hopelessly endure a difficult situation,” the company wrote on their website.
Officer Yerke said he also reminds staff that they have been empowered to take action by calling 911 when something in their “sight picture” stands out because it’s not normal to see during the course of their day.
“It’s a man standing in a bathrobe on the football field,” he gave as an example of something a school worker would not normally see in their sight picture.
That’s when Yerke reminds school workers that they have been empowered to call 911.
“You have that permission to call 911. You don’t have to find the principal. You don’t have to find your boss. You don’t have to do those things. If you see something that’s not right, you can call 911,” he said.
Classes are set to resume in Royal Oak and Novi Tuesday morning.