New law: all Iowa schools must have high-quality emergency plans
By Jill Kruse-Domeyer
Witness Editorial Assistant
DUBUQUE — At Resurrection Elementary School, and all the schools of Dubuque’s Holy Family Catholic Schools system — which includes several elementary schools and childcare centers, Mazzuchelli Catholic Middle School, and Wahlert Catholic High School — security is of the utmost importance, according to the system’s chief administrator, Carol Trueg.
“Every building is locked. People have to be buzzed in,” Trueg said. “We make sure that only those people who have a reason to be in the building are allowed into our buildings.”
“Every site has a plan in place for what would we do in terms of an active shooter,” she said.
Holy Family works closely with the Dubuque police and fire departments, as well as Dubuque County Emergency Management regarding issues of security, and administrators have participated in drills sponsored by law enforcement and fire officials to increase their preparedness.
“As administrators,” Trueg said, “we’ve had lots of training and then that translates to the school level. So the administrators are taking that back to their teachers.”
School procedures are continuously being reevaluated, Trueg said, and new security measures added. For example, at the middle school, blinds have been installed over hallway windows, so they could be closed if needed in an emergency situation. Throughout the Wahlert and Mazzuchelli campus, magnets have been added to the doors, so that in the event of an intruder, teachers would not have to go into the hallway to secure their rooms.
Also, earlier this year, the Iowa House and Senate passed, and the governor signed, a new law that requires every public and private school in the state to create a high-quality emergency plan. “We are in the process of looking at our current plan and updating that so that it meets the requirements that the legislature has set forth,” Trueg said.
When it comes to school security, Trueg has two factors she tries to keep in mind, she said. “For us it becomes a balance between how do you make sure that you have established a culture in which students feel safe and are not worrying about those possibilities all the time, with making sure the building is absolutely intruder-proof.”
While many steps have been and continue to be taken to increase security at Holy Family, Trueg believes there is always more to be done. “There’s never enough that we can do,” she reflected, “but this is really a high priority for us to make sure we can make our kids safe.”
Photo: Wahlert Catholic High School, part of the Holy Family School system. (Photo courtesy of Holy Family Catholic Schools)