Members of several law enforcement and fire protection agencies swept through South Tahoe Middle School on Tuesday to perform a scheduled safety drill one day after a school shooting in Sparks, Nev.
The team moved classroom-to-classroom, making sure doors were locked and lights were off, shortly after the drill began about 10:45 a.m.
The district had considered canceling the drill, despite the fact that it was scheduled before the Sparks Middle School shooting, said Al Frangione, safety and technology consultant for the Lake Tahoe Unified School District. However, officials decided it was ultimately in South Tahoe Middle School’s best interest to carry out the exercise.
“We’ll do it just because we have to remain diligent,” he said of the decision.
Several agencies were represented at the “Duck and Cover” drill Tuesday, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, El Dorado Sheriff’s Department, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, California Highway Patrol and Lake Valley Fire Department.
The exercise occurred one day after an unidentified student at Sparks Middle School near Reno fired on campus. During the rampage, a teacher was killed trying to protect children and two 12-year-old boys were wounded before the shooter killed himself.
Karin Holmes, assistant principal of South Tahoe Middle School, said the incident worried Tahoe’s students.
“Kids are concerned,” she said. “It’s near Reno. There’s a lot to think about.”
A number of law enforcement units were sent to South Tahoe schools shortly after the Sparks shooting Monday “to show some presence” and “try to have a calming effect,” said Glenn Norling, special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Additionally, South Tahoe Middle School and South Tahoe High School were on heightened alert after the incident, said Angie Keil, executive assistant to the superintendent, in an email. Exterior doors were locked and staff was “extra” vigilant.
Keil sent the email to families and staff later that day, expressing officials’ condolences.
“It is with heavy hearts and deepest sympathy that we express our condolences to the families and the community affected by the tragic shooting at Sparks Middle School this morning,” Keil stated in an email Monday. “Once again, it pains us to hear that school violence has claimed the lives of a teacher and a student.”
“Our thoughts are with the staff, students and families of Sparks Middle School,” she continued, “particularly those of the deceased and injured.”
Norling, who has children in the district, said the situation has made him think about what he can do better to protect his kids, and how to help his kids better protect themselves.
“It’s a lot of angst and concern, and a lot of empathy to the parents out there who had to experience something horrible,” he said Tuesday. “It was a sleepless night.”