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Resources for Schools and Districts Impacted by False Active Shooter Threats

Friday, October 21, 2022

Dear District Administrators,

We know that a number of districts and schools were a victim of false active shooter threats in the past couple of days. We recognize the work you did with local law enforcement and your school communities to ensure safety during this. We wanted to provide some resources to those districts that went through this. These resources are in addition to and align with the excellent resources and assistance to impacted districts WASDA and the Donovan Group have been providing.

While lockdowns are a necessary response to some safety situations, there is the potential for unannounced lockdowns to produce anxiety, stress, and traumatic symptoms in staff and students. Reaffirming a sense of emotional and physical safety at school is a critical step as you work towards recovery from this event.

It may be useful to meet with students to debrief in a structured, formal setting to reaffirm safety, answer their questions, discuss how school leaders work to keep them safe, and learn about what makes them feel protected. In addition to universal opportunities for group discussion, it is recommended that adults be made available for students who need extra support and coping strategies as they recover.

These resources provide guidance in these efforts:

  1. Talking to Children about Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers. This resources from National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) guides caregivers (parents and school staff) as they reaffirm a sense of safety and wellbeing for youth.
  2. Returning to School After a Crisis. This resource from the National Center for School Safety (NCSS) is for school staff to help students cope with the aftermath of traumatic events. It provides guidance and prompts for our conversations with youth (page 9) and includes strategies to manage student distress following a crisis as well as a resource handout (pages 10-12).
  3. A letter template from the Donovan Group. This template is intended for use as you communicate with parents.
  4. Mitigation strategies and reporting procedures resource provided by the New Jersey State Police Cyber Crimes Unit, the Intelligence and Analysis Threat Unit at the Regional Operations Intelligence Center, the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, and the FBI.

Thank you for your careful work to ensure safe schools in Wisconsin. If your school has been impacted by a critical incident and there is a need for further assistance in your response and recovery efforts, you can contact the Department of Justice in two ways:

  1. A toll-free phone number: 1-800-MY-SUSO-1 (1-800-697-8761)
  2. Email address:

They will work with the impacted school to learn the needs of the educational community, and provide a right-sized, solutions-oriented approach to crisis response and recovery best practices that “do no harm.”

John W. Johnson, PhD
Deputy State Superintendent