As schools search for ways to protect students and faculty members from the possibility of an active shooter on campus, an Oklahoma school district is the first in the nation to install bulletproof structures inside classrooms.
Healdton Public School have installed shelters from a company called Shelter-In-Place that can fit 35 students and teachers in the event of a shooting or deadly storm. Seven have been installed in the town's elementary school and two large ones at the middle school, Superintendent Terry Shaw says, adding that the district plans to add at least two more at the local high school.
The safe rooms take less than a minute to load and can be locked from the inside. Each structure contains its own backup power, lighting, air filtration and security cameras.
Videos from Shelter-In-Place show the safe room withstanding gunfire from an AK-47, an AR-15, a 9mm and other firearms.
Healdton Superintendent Shaw is so confident in the product from the Utah-based company that he secured himself inside the shelter and allowed himself to be shot at.
"I volunteered. I did not feel comfortable putting these in my buildings if I wasn't willing to do it myself, so I offered to go inside. But it was very surreal. I felt very comfortable, very safe," he told KOCO-TV.
The Healdton district was one of many across the country that investigated possible shooting threats in the wake of the Parkland High School shooting that left 14 students and three faculty members dead.
“At the end of last week a student of the District, while attending a counseling session with a private counselor in another city, told the counselor he/she was going to go on a shooting rampage,” Healdton Public Schools said in a Monday post on its Facebook page.
The student did not mention the school and the counselor contacted law enforcement, according to the district. The investigation "took appropriate steps to ensure that the student was not a threat to himself, others or the District."
Shaw told Newsweek he thinks schools "need to see [the shelters] as an option." He said he was initially drawn to them for their tornado resistance, installing the first seven in the elementary school in 2014 and two in the middle school in May 2017.
So far, the only times the shelters have been used are for drills, Shaw said, adding that it was a product "you hope never to have to use."1comments
According to Shelter-In-Place, prices for the in-class 8-by-8-foot models start at around $30,000. KFOR-TV reported that Atoka spent $400,000 on their six safety rooms.
Shelter-In-Place recommends that school districts work with local banks to “establish a low interest lease” to pay for the safe rooms, adding that though schools can apply for FEMA grants, “this process can take several years to complete.”