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Active shooter safety videos to be shown to most Duval students

Only exceptions are K-2nd graders, elementary students who are opted out


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Despite some concerns from parents, the Duval County School Board decided Tuesday that all students in the district will be shown active-shooter safety videos except for students in kindergarten through second grade. 

Parents of students in third through fifth grades who don't want their children watching the video can opt them out. The deadline for parents to opt out varies by elementary school. 

Officials with Duval County Public Schools say the videos are required as part of the new Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, but they listened to concerns from some parents who believe the videos may be too graphic or scary.

Two parents, both with elementary aged kids who have career backgrounds with children, spoke out against the videos, saying they are simply too much.

While parents of elementary schoolers have the option to opt their child out of seeing the video, the parents told the board that kids will still talk about the active-shooter safety videos.

"The bad things that are happening in society, we're putting the weight of that on our children. I don't think they need that level of detail that the video shows. I feel like we could prepare them for danger in a much more age-appropriate way, and by helping them walk through the steps to take if a bad guy enters their school. I think there's a lot of trauma that can be done with the fearful images on the videos," said parent Mary Nash.

The district released the active-shooter videos a couple of weeks ago that show what students and teachers can do to stay as safe as possible. 

There are several videos -- each for specific age groups.

Since the board decided against showing the video to students in kindergarten through second grade, school leaders will have to come up with another way to teach the younger students active shooter safety tips. 

Threat assessment teams

Another aspect of the Safety Act is the addition of threat assessment teams at every school.

At a workshop Wednesday morning, the Duval County School Board discussed the teams, which will be made up of people with expertise in counseling, instruction, school administration and law enforcement. 

The team will identify and intervene with students whose behavior may pose a threat to the safety of themselves, students or staff. 

The team can obtain criminal history of any student posing a threat and a parent or guardian will be notified if their student is assessed by the team. 

Board Chair Paula Wright talked about the importance of each school having one of these teams.

"The end goal is to really help out not just schools but our community," Wright said. "To focus on the needs of our students, and I think that one of the most important aspects of the threat assessment team is for us again to have that focus on mental health and how mental health plays a tremendous part in the safety of our students and our community and thus our schools."

The School Board Police Department is already working on getting the teams together. Once the teams and plans are finalized, the board will have a workshop in the fall to fully discuss -- and get community reaction -- before the teams are implemented at each school.