The Guam Department of Education has instituted a new way of determining if threats are low of high level called the RAM. This involves keeping kids in class while staff and teachers search the school for explosives but is this new system safe?
Guam – “As a parent myself, I have two kids in the public school system. Every decision I make, with the fact that my kids go to school, I want them to be safe, protected. I don’t separate my decision-making from my circumstances,” says Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez.
The viral video of an automated message threatening to bomb every Guam high school and middle school caused some chaos on social media and at the schools. Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez says after the threat was called in yesterday, officials conducted a sweep and secured all the schools. However, today, parents were concerned about sending their children to school.
He says, “Number 1. I want them to know that we take safety and security as our first priority. There is no way we’ll compromise the safety and security of our students. Number 2. We have no developed anything on our own. Everything we’ve done and continue to do is in collaboration with GPD, GFD, Homeland Security…who’s there to help respond. We don’t do anything without them being okay to it.”
Fernandez is talking about the new Risk Assessment Matrix. Basically, schools would determine the level of threat by several factors including: the level of security at the school and the level of preparedness of school personnel. Based on those factors, schools come up with a score to determine their overall level of risk. When it’s a high level threat, students are evacuated while law enforcement officials take over and conduct a sweep. However, when it’s a low level threat, students are sheltered in place while school adminstrators and staff sweep the campus. This outraged parents.
Fernandez explains, “Not every threat is the same. Not every response will be the same. As we thought through every scenarios, we look at every possibility. If someone really wants to harm our kids, what prevents them from having everyone evacuate in the field and setting them off at the field. Anytime we sweep the school, our employees are advised and trained to be on the lookout in the classrooms, hallways, and public areas to look for anything suspicious. They’re going to know right off the bat than the police department coming in from the outside.”
Fernandez assures parents that with every incident of a threat, whether it’s low level or high level, police are called. He explains that RAM may be very complex but the bottom line is that security and safety of students come first.
He says, “I do want to encourage everyone in our schools to continue to discourage these activities and let people know it’s not funny. It’s serious. Continue communication with me and other adults and authority to provide information. If you hear or see anything suspicious, they know how to reach me, administrators, law enforcement. Let us know what you know so we can resolve this issue and get operations back to normal.”