Hays County school districts adopt new safety video

A new safety video adopted by all four Hays County public school districts looks to educate students and teachers on the necessary steps in case of an emergency.

The video, which was simultaneously announced and broadcasted to various Hays County law enforcement officers, public officials and students Jan. 15, is in conjunction with the county’s standard response protocol (SRP) training.

Aimed at a younger audience, the animated video was produced by Hays County Emergency Management staff and Texas State University’s Institute for Government Innovation. The premise of the video is centered around the procedure of “lockout, lockdown, evacuate and shelter” in segments to equip teachers with adequate instruction on how to teach school safety.

“This video will make it easier for teachers to talk with young students about very difficult topics,” said Hays CISD Superintendent Eric Wright. “It fills an important gap in making sure all students, regardless of their age or development, have access to appropriate information to keep them safe should an emergency occur.”

The program takes influence from the I Love U Guys Foundation, an organization created to “restore and protect the joy of youth through educational programs and positive action in collaboration with families, schools, communities, organizations and government entities.”

Across the nation, entities have adopted the foundation’s response protocol training for public and higher education.

John-Michael Keyes, founder of I Love U Guys, attended the premiere of the video hosted at the Hays CISD Performing Arts Center. 

Keyes started I love U Guys following a school shooting in 2006 that took the life of his daughter, Emily. Her final text to her family was “I Love U Guys.” Since the tragedy, Keyes has made it his life’s duty to protect students through adequate training and planning.

Keyes said the premise of the program is to equip students, teachers and first responders with the same universal vocabulary on how to act during an emergency situation.

The program began in 2009 and was done in conjunction with the Jefferson County School District in Colorado, Keyes said. That district is the largest in Colorado with 150 schools and is home to Columbine High, the site of a 1999 school shooting that killed 15 people.

Keyes said programs like SRP allow discussion about school safety to begin, especially when parents find it difficult to discuss these topics with their children.

“This is a great addition to our SRP because it’s giving our Pre-k, Kindergarten and elementary students another way to talk about school safety,” said Phillip Taylor, Hays CISD director of safety and security. “This is a sensitive topic. It can be difficult for teachers to talk to their students about this. So, this program introduced for the next school year is going to fill the gap, and give us good coverage on school safety.”

Dripping Springs Independent School District Superintendent Bruce Gearing said the district has been involved with the SRP program since its inception and supports the efforts of Hays County to ensure the safety of students throughout the districts.

“It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it’s necessary,” Gearing said. “We are tasked to provide a safe environment for our kids and we are going to do everything we can as a public institution as it pertains to school safety. It’s a paramount priority on our list.”

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