Schools hope never to experience a tornado, fire or active shooter situation, but USD 250 still is preparing for each.
As teachers head back to work, they are being trained on ALICE, a shooter response program designed to help individuals make decisions that increase survival rates in the event of an active shooter.
"All of these things we would talk about openly and honestly with the kids," said Chris Garzone, an assistant principal at Pittsburg High School and is responsible for the district’s crisis plan and procedures.
However, he said that would be done in age-appropriate ways.
"This ALICE program has all different sorts of resources to have kids of all ages understand," Garzone said.
Kris Mengarelli, a math teacher at PHS, agreed.
"As professionals, we care enough about kids to have the hard discussions," he said. "Even just to start off our training with that it is a heavy subject."
Mengarelli and many other teachers said that what they do like is that the ALICE response fits with traditional fight or flight, but during training early this week teachers did express concern that those contemplating an attack could be learning too much about the response strategy.
However, when the strategy is to do whatever it takes to stop the shooter and to survive, anything is game.
Samantha Warren, a new teacher at Pittsburg High School, said her previous school in Colorado was ALICE trained and kept an ALICE kit with items to barricade the rooms and a can of hornet spray to distract the shooter.
"That is a great idea to have that in your classroom," said Anthony Pichler, the Crawford County Sheriff’s deputy who led the training.
Warren said she is glad her new district is training on ALICE, and said her second-grade son has also handled the knowledge well, especially as it builds on themes of "stranger danger" that are already instilled into children.
"I think the empowerment piece is really important, instead of waiting for others to make decisions for you," Warren said.
"It’s nice to be able to fight back or flee, or whatever it takes to protect people," Mengarelli agreed.
He said it also is nice for teachers to be able to care for and protect their students through their decisions.
"When it comes to our students in the classrooms, we are wired that way that would lay it all down for our students," Mengarelli said. "We pray that we’re never faced with this as a real situation, but it is a situation we all have to think about. It’s nice to be able to fight back or flee or whatever it takes to protect people."