Gulfport School District trains for active shooting ahead of new school year

About 870 teachers, staff and faculty members of the Gulfport School District attended safety training courses at Gulfport High School on Tuesday.
Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 4:02 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Gulfport students will begin heading back to school on Thursday, but first, teachers want to ensure a safe return.

About 870 teachers, staff and faculty members of the Gulfport School District attended safety training courses at Gulfport High School on Tuesday.

Marissa Combs with the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security led a presentation on active shooter situations in the auditorium.

“Safety is inconvenient, and the little things that you do will save you time,” she said during her lecture.

She explained that keeping classroom doors locked at all times is key. She guided the crowd through real-life examples from Columbine High School, Virginia Tech and more.

“This is a very serious but an important message,” Instructional Programs Director Lea Bellon told WLOX. “I’m in classrooms frequently, and so I think the main thing to do is just always make sure you’re looking for your exits, thinking of, you know, if this were to happen, what would I do?”

On Thursday, Central Elementary School teachers and staff will implement the information by practicing intruder drills with their school resource officer.

“In addition to being an educator, I am also a parent,” Principal Lawanda Thornton said. “When my own children leave from home and they go to school, I want to feel that they are safe. So, we want to do the same thing in the Gulfport School District, and we want our parents and our community to know that when they come to our buildings that in addition to teaching them, that we’re also in the business of keeping them safe.”

Down the hall, Network Security Engineer Jonathan Geiselman taught staff the ins and outs of cybersecurity.

“Because we have access to so much of student information, it’s important that we’re diligent in maintaining the security of that information,” he said.

It’s knowledge that teachers will soon put to the test as students begin arriving on Thursday.

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