Licking Valley District reviews contingency plan after hoax active shooter situation

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As soon as word of a possible active shooter spread, parents rushed to Licking Valley schools to see their children.

NEWARK, Ohio — The local school district of Licking Valley is examining how it can improve its emergency response plans after a false active-fire call forced schools in the district to close last week.

As soon as word spread about a possible active shooter in Licking Valley, parents rushed to school to see their children. With a single road between primary, middle and high schools, traffic slowed down quickly. Some parents parked on the side of the road nearly a mile away, walking to their children’s school.

Although the shooting was a hoax, the district superintendent said the emotions people felt that day were very real.

“It is impossible to tell the parents not to come. We would like it to be in an orderly fashion. Part of that is the beauty of our community. They want to be there, they want to see their children. I can’t say no to them,” Scott Beery said.

Beery said the district is working with local law enforcement to improve its traffic response in the area.

“They might not even be able to get the ambulances in, and so how do they get the ambulances out? I understand what parents think, I think the same,” said Gary Sigrist, founder of Safeguard Risk Solutions.

Safeguard Risk Solutions is a company that helps schools and businesses plan events like Friday’s. Sigrist said with the fatal shooting at a school in Uvalde so fresh in parents’ minds, it’s understandable that so many people rushed to schools.

“Our communities’ officers are prepared and trained and we have leaders who understand what they need to do,” Sigrist said.

Beery said the students did exactly what they practiced and got to safety until law enforcement swept the buildings and gave the go-ahead.

“They did what they were trained to do. It breaks my heart that they need to be trained, but they did exactly what we would want them to do,” Beery said.

The district and Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office will debrief the incident. The two groups will then meet to see if there are any changes the two need to make to their plans.

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