Students in satellite or portable classrooms may be physically separated from the main body of their school, but their emergency procedures in the case of an active shooter remain the same.
“It doesn’t matter if you are in the brick and mortar building or you’re in the satellite or trailer, because the procedure is lock the doors, turn out lights, move away and then, of course, the teacher has to take attendance,” said Kimberly Bird, a spokeswoman for Alpine School District.
The Alpine School District has 363 portable classrooms this year, with 216 of them at elementary schools, 63 at middle schools and 84 at high schools. There are 34 satellite classrooms outside Westlake High School in Saratoga Springs alone.
Portable and satellite classrooms are used at crowded schools to keep up with growing student populations. The classrooms stand alone and are detached from the main school buildings.
Students are taught how to act during lockdowns (when students hide from sight, stay silent and keep the classroom door locked), lockouts (when a threat may be in a neighborhood and a school locks its exterior doors while things go on as usual inside), evacuations and when there is a shelter in place (used for natural disasters).
But portables do create an additional safety concern for districts.
“They do present more of a concern because they are detached from the building,” said Caleb Price, a spokesman for the Provo City School District..
Price said the Provo City School District is trying to address the problems portables bring through building improvements.
“Portables aren’t ideal for any situation — safety, comfort, education — there is no point where those are the preferred,” he said.
Bird said most school safety incidents have happened in the main school building at schools and that intruders will enter wherever they can.
“Truthfully, whenever someone can penetrate the building, they are going to,” Bird said.
Bird said teachers in satellite or portable classrooms have a button that can immediately contact a school’s main office
Both school districts have reiterated safety procedures to parents after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day.
Price said Provo City School District reevaluates its school safety procedures after national school shootings. Additional safety drills were also run in Provo school last week.
Price said the district has also connected with Congressman John Curtis and Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi following the shooting to see how local schools can be safer. The district is also interested in partnerships with organizations like Wasatch Mental Health in an effort to prevent school violence.
Schools in both districts have also been rebuilt or modified over the past several years. Electronic keys are required at entrances and schools have been designed to have a main office at the front of the school so visitors must pass an office before going toward classrooms.
Bird said Alpine School District underwent safety changes after two incidents in the past few years.
The district made sure lockdown procedures were uniform across district schools after a report of an armed, suspicious individual inside Pleasant Grove High School in 2015. The school went into lockdown for more than two hours, and the report was later discovered to be a hoax.
A year later, five students were stabbed in a locker room at Mountain View High School in Orem. Alpine School District partnered with Davis School District following the incident, and hired a former police officer to work as a district safety director. The district has also created a safety leadership team.
Bird said three parents in the district who were at Columbine High School in Colorado during the school shooting there in 1999 have met with a local principal to talk about how to react following a school shooting.
Police investigated two teens in Utah County last week after they made potential threats against their schools on social media. A Springville High School students was arrested Thursday after making a threat, and Timpanogos High School in Orem had additional police at the school Friday after a student there made threats and was suspended.
Both threats were deemed not credible by police.