There’s strength in unity.
That’s why it’s reassuring to  know all schools under the jurisdiction of the Northwest School Division are now on the same page when it comes to being ready for the absolute worst.

During the recent NWSD board meeting, communications manager Kaitlin Harman and superintendent of schools Terry Craig updated trustees on the board’s emergency response plan, noting a strict criteria is now in place to ensure each school is at the same level in terms of how to be prepared for a potential emergency situation and how to properly react if and when one actually occurs.

Of course it’s always better to be safe than sorry, but, at the same time, the mere fact this plan had to evolve in the first place is somewhat disheartening and, to a certain degree, just a little frightening. Barring the post-war era when schools practised air raid drills and students were well versed in how to “duck and cover”, there was a time when students and teachers simply had to know how to exit the building and where to line up following the sounding of a fire alarm. Fire drills were common practice then and most likely remain so to this day.

Unfortunately, however, it’s a changing world. Atrocities once relegated to the nightly news and, for the most part, beyond Canada’s borders, are beginning to creep into this country – in some cases even as far as northern Saskatchewan – and the impact on area school children has not gone unnoticed.

In May of 2014, schools throughout Meadow Lake were put on lockdown when threatening phone calls were made to Lakeview, Jubilee and Gateway Elementary Schools resulting in a very obvious police presence at these locations and the eventual evacuation of students to Lions Park. While the threats ultimately proved to be unfounded, lockdown drills began being practised more regularly. Meanwhile, although not school related, a temporary lockdown occurred again last year during what turned out to be a murder-suicide incident outside a home on the city’s west side. And, while not part of the Northwest School Division, no one will ever forget the shooting spree at La Loche Community School in January of this year that led to death and heartache for an entire community.

With its newly revised plan in place, at least the NWSD can let parents rest assured school is still a safe place to send their children. An emergency response plan of any kind is never going to entirely protect everyone at all times nor will it put a stop to the evils that sometimes infiltrate this world, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. The NWSD should be commended for making student safety a top priority.