Blog Entry by Sherry Dumont

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Photo of Sherry Dumont Sherry Dumont is a Special Educator at Missisquoi Valley Union Middle/High School (MVU). She works with students at MVU's work-readiness program, where students spend a part of the day gaining employment skills working in the community. Sherry began her career a classroom teacher in Plattsburgh. She also worked at the Alburgh Community Education Center as a planning room supervisor and special-education aide.

All schools need to be prepared for a crisis. Usually "school crisis" is something we associate with larger, urban areas. As many of us know a school crisis can happen and has happened in Vermont. A school crisis is unexpected; a plan needs to be in place. At Missisquoi Valley Union Middle/High School (MVU) there is a crisis response plan (Guidelines for Safety Planning and Crisis Response at MVU), developed by the Crisis & Safety Planning Team. This team consists of school administrators, teachers, school nurses, NCSS mental health providers, local fire/ EMT departments, police, border patrol, and Red Cross. The team meets up to four times a year. As a special educator I know that I can meet with an administrator on the team to relay information regarding specific students with disabilities (students in wheelchairs/handicapped/intellectual disabilities, etc.), who may need additional accommodations/support during a fire/lockdown drill or crisis. There are monthly fire-drills or lock own drills. During fire-drills students walk outside to a designated area; classroom letter/number is posted. Every student is accounted for (825 students). During lockdown drills, occasionally specific classrooms are targeted and an "intruder" will try to get in. The students have learned that they cannot open the door for anyone.

A few years ago the school was under lockdown and I was locked in a classroom with several other special-ed students. The students were scared, but they remembered what they had learned from the past drills and lockdowns. They understood why the lights were off and the doors were locked. MVU is a large school; it can be noisy at times. This lockdown lasted approximately 3 hours and the students were quiet and knew they had to stay in the classroom until they were given the "all clear" signal on the intercom.

No one can predict what will happen in a real crisis; without a plan it will be even worse.

Page Last Updated on December 4, 2014