Tragic Texas School Shooting Sends Shockwaves Through Kaua‘i Community
By Amanda Kurth
Some Kaua‘i educators express concern over what they say is a frightening reality to potentially act on required active shooter training as the country is yet again gripped by the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that left several children dead.
Nineteen children and two teachers were killed just more than a week ago when an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in a fourth-grade classroom at Robb Elementary School. On Tuesday, May 31, the Uvalde community began laying the victims to rest.
And as the school year has come to its end, educators are beginning to reassess the direction and safeguards regarding emergencies and the safety of their students.
Christina Deltondo, a Health, and Home Economics teacher at Waimea Canyon Middle school, told Kaua‘i Now News the end of the academic year should be a happy time for students.
“The Texas school shooting happened the day before the last day of school,” Deltondo said, adding, “we asked students if they thought this could happen to them in such a rural community, and they all agreed that they would just be killing their cousins.”
The day after the shooting, Deltondo said administrators and teachers spent the last day of school making sure to check attendance by identifying the required school uniform on every student.
“…Which is difficult because it was the last day,” she added.
Kaua‘i police posted to social media the day after the shooting that the department was taking active steps toward securing schools and preventing any such tragedy from happening on the Garden Isle.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of innocent children and staff at the deadly mass shooting today in Texas,” Patrol Services Bureau Assistant Chief Kalani Ke stated on the KPD Facebook page.
As a precaution, KPD decided to increase police presence and patrols at schools across the island to support school resource officers, the community and provide added safety and security until the end of the school year.
“Our thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy,” Ke stated.
While there was a heightened presence during the last day of school, the state Department of Education told Kaua‘i Now News in an email it continues to take proactive steps in preparing for, preventing, mitigating, responding to and recovering from both manmade and natural disasters at the state, complex area and school levels.
“All schools are required to have established emergency action plans and are required to perform five drills – lockdown, shelter-in-place, tsunami, earthquake and evacuation – per school year, as well as fire drills on a monthly basis for elementary schools and quarterly for secondary schools,” the DOE stated.
Deltondo said all teachers are required to participate in Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate, also called ALICE. The middle school teacher said the training has been widely used throughout the state for at least five years.
“I hope we never have to participate in this and it’s scary to think we might have to distract a shooter to help save lives, but I like that it’s not a clear cut answer, and were supposed to respond as best we can for the best possible outcome,” Deltondo said of ALICE. “Allows for some flexibility and practice doing multiple exit strategies.”
The DOE also said it has implemented various safety initiatives to mitigate the security challenges associated with Hawaii’s open-campus schools, including performing vulnerability assessments, offering active threat response training to schools and complex areas, and dedicating resources to increase surveillance and security at schools.