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Officials field few questions about mock disaster at CMS

Six people attended Monday’s Craig Middle School Parent Advisory Committee meeting to field questions, but there were few raised by the seven parents who attended.

School district officials ex—-pected there to be some controversy about a decision to participate in a mock disaster drill while students were in their classrooms. Letters explaining the scenario and the reasons for the decision were sent to parents last week and included an invitation to Monday’s meeting to discuss the issues.

But there were few questions about the May 18 “Community Crisis Drill,” in which two shooters get into the middle school.



“I think this is going to be a good drill, but (students) are going to have to deal with some disturbing content, which is why we sent the letter,” CMS Principal Steve Wiersma said.

District officials have been working with emergency res–ponders on the scenario and have even worked through it in a tabletop exercise.



“We believe this will really push us to test our plans as well as allow law enforcement to test theirs,” Superintendent of Schools Pete Bergmann said.

The work up to this point already has ferreted out discrepancies between the school district’s emergency response plans and those of law enforcement. The school district has a plan for student evacuations that is completely different from that of law enforcement. Both entities have trained for disaster response, but those trainings didn’t match, police chief Walt Vanatta said.

“We’re just trying to get where we’re all on the same page and working together,” he said. “This should be a learning process for everyone. That’s our goal with this.”

Most of the “disaster” will be isolated at the school’s second floor and will have minimal effect on classes. The school will go into a “code red” lockdown, which means students will be confined to their classrooms.

Parent Sherry Kurz asked how that would affect other schools, especially Craig Intermediate School.

Bergmann said that all other schools would be placed under “code yellow” lockdown, in which education is continued, but that schools are secured.

In the first 20 minutes of the disaster, as police are working to neutralize the gunmen, students will be working with their teachers on responding as if the scenario were real — they’ll determine where in their classrooms the best cover is. After police have the gunmen under control, students will talk with their teachers about school violence, the agencies that are responding and what they are doing.

“We hope to conclude this with students showing their appreciation for those agencies,” Wiersma said.

The drill will end with students walking through evacuation procedures.

“As we’re getting closer and closer, I’m feeling more and more comfortable with this,” Wiersma said.


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