These 6 Utah Schools Set Up $31,000 State Grants To Improve Safety Training

It has been more than two months since the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, left 21 people dead. After shooting, many Utahns felt anxious, fearful and sad — and those feelings are rising again as we approach another K-12 school year.

To ease concerns, some schools in Utah are improving safety measures.

Six schools received the School Safety Pilot Program Grant, which offers each school up to $31,250 to improve safety measures. Recipients include Cedar Valley High School and Frontier Middle School in the Alpine School District, Mountain Crest High in the Cache County School District, Union Middle School in the Canyons School District, Northridge High in the Davis School District, and North Sanpete High in the North Sanpete School District.

Rhett Larsen, student and school safety specialist at Utah State Board of Education, said the grant does not fund “school hardening.” That means the money can’t be used for things like extra locks, cameras, and bulletproof glass.

“These funds are provided to increase confidence in school security measures like threat assessments, which is a critical part of helping to support our schools,” Larsen said.

And that’s what these schools do.

Larsen said the North Sanpete School District used its funds to partner with the I Love U Guys Foundation to conduct reunification training. The idea is to help parents and students find each other in the event of a crisis. The foundation was launched after the death of Emily Keyes, daughter of Ellen and John-Michael Keyes, in a school shooting. She texted both her parents that day, saying “I love you guys.”

Jarom Bécar, director of Frontier College, said his school also used funds for training. One was in Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines. It teaches trainees how to deal with different threats of violence, respond appropriately and implement a security plan.

“It’s never OK when we have kids who are hurting,” Becar said. “It’s our job to try to mitigate and create opportunities to help and support children.”

The school’s training helped everyone feel safer, but Bécar said that couldn’t erase all the worries.

“I’m not going to sit here and tell you, yeah, we did these trainings, and I feel like we’re prepared enough to avert something terrible for one of my kids,” he said. he declared. “But this conscious effort that we make every day and to take care of each other, not just at school, but in our communities, in our homes, is so important.”

The School Safety Pilot Program Grant is now accepting applications for funding for 2023.

Maria D. Ervin