ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Schools across New Mexico will ring in the new school year with new requirements from the state forcing students to be prepared for active shooters.
Meanwhile, Albuquerque Public Schools is warning parents and students about what to expect with the revamped safety training scenarios that will replace some fire drills.
Republican Sen. Craig Brandt’s Senate Bill 147 passed the New Mexico State Legislature earlier this year, requiring schools to active shooter related drills.
During the first four weeks of school, APS and every other district in the state will be required to have one active shooter drill (as part of shelter in place drills); one off-site evacuation drill; and two fire drills.
“The world has changed and we have to have these really difficult conversations,” said Scott Elder, Chief Operations Officer for APS.
APS says the training will take place across all 143 of its schools. While the district has already invested in active shooter training for students and staff in years past, the district says this change in state law ensures that district have to take part in the training within the first four weeks of school.
“It feels like its a pro-active step,” said Elder.
APS says the active shooter preparedness training will affect all students, but will change depending on the students age. The biggest change they’re warning parents about is the evacuation drill.
“We’ll be taking the kids you know, off the campus, and they may hear, ‘oh my gosh, the school’s leaving campus,’ they need to be aware that that’s a drill,” said Elder.
APS parents told KRQE News 13 Wednesday they’re on board with the new schedule.
“I think there needs to be better communication between students and the teachers. Maybe more meetings with officers,” APS parent Nicole Jochum said. “We talk about listening to your teachers and following the orders and it’s heartbreaking that we have to have these talks but unfortunately it’s just the way things are now.”
For the rest of the school year, APS and all districts are required to have at least four additional drills, including two fire drills and two emergency drills to be chosen by the schools.
APS said it’s also working on other safety improvements, including adding new classroom locks and limiting access points on some campuses.
APS says while it is a hard topic, active shooter preparedness is something they cannot ignore.
“None of us went into education thinking these were the conversations we’d have, how to keep kids from being hurt this way but we also recognize our responsibility to the children,” said Elder.
The last school shooting in New Mexico was in December 2017 at Aztec High School, killing Casey Marquez and Paco Fernandez.