Onalaska School District is updating its school safety plan

With recent threats made against schools in Sparta and Winona, we took a look at how local school districts are keeping their students safe.

Within the last year, the Onalaska School District received more than a quarter million dollars from the Department of Justice to improve school safety.

That money is going toward increasing structural devices such as cameras and door locks, as well as training.

Anna Curtis, associate principal of Onalaska High School, said staffers in the district receive active shooter training through a program called ALICE.

“Essentially students and staff would be sitting ducks if someone got into the classroom. ALICE provides options of barricading, fighting or fleeing,” Curtis said.

And even though the staffers know the training is fake, Curtis said the emotions it creates are very real.

“People get really uncomfortable and nervous and stressful when they hear simulated gunfire or they hear over the PA there’s an armed intruder in the building,” Curtis said.

This training enforces how important it is for staff members to keep their eyes open for suspicious behavior.

“Whether it’s school or in a street or in a grocery store be aware of your surroundings,” Curtis said.

The district is also getting students directly involved in the training.

Kent Ellickson, director of finance and business services for the Onalaska School District said, “At the high school we’ve actually had the students involved in preparation of videos to talk about various responses should there be an active shooter situation.”

Even though there have been several improvements, the district said it can never be too prepared.

“We’re not perfect. We know we can always improve and that’s what we strive for,” Curtis said.

The Onalaska School dDstrict plans to have more active shooter training within the next few weeks.

It also is working with the Onalaska Fire and Police departments on updating and improving its safety plan.

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