Since 2013, there have been more than 200 school shootings in the U.S. — nearly one per week, a study shows. The most recent hit the still-recovering city of San Bernardino on April 10 at North Park Elementary, less than nine miles south of the Inland Regional Center where a terrorist attack left 14 dead on Dec. 2, 2015.

The county has seen more than its fair share of gun violence, raising questions in the minds of many about safety, especially at schools. But what are the chances that when a gun goes off at a school, someone actually gets hurt? And what are schools doing to prevent it?

California schools stepped up protection against gun violence following Colorado’s deadly Columbine High School shootings in 1999. Officials required all public schools to have annually updated emergency plans, among other things. “But no matter how hard we work, tragedies always force us to reflect on what we're doing and how well we're doing it,” Victor Elementary School District spokesperson Eric Camarena said.  

Last Monday, when Cedric Anderson walked into a North Park special education class and killed the teacher (his estranged wife), an eight-year-old student and himself, leaving one other student wounded, it was the first deadly U.S. school shooting of 2017 deemed an “attack” that appears on an incidents list from advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.

Also worth noting is that it falls in with the 54 percent of all mass shootings determined by Everytown to involve domestic violence.

The Daily Press reviewed local news reports for each of this year’s incidents listed by Everytown, finding that of the 11 other school shootings listed so far this year, one was a student suicide, two were accidents resulting in injury (at a Minnesota college and a Kansas college), three were attacks resulting in injury (at an Ohio college, a South Carolina high school and an Ohio high school) and five were without injury or death.

“As we grieve for those who died or were injured, this is also a time to remind all California public schools to make sure they annually update their mandatory school safety plans,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said following the North Park shooting, noting that the Department of Education also provides waivers for schools affected by emergencies.

The state does not track schools’ individual safety plans, however, nor does the county apparently.

When asked whether county elementary schools have security guards staffed on site, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Chief Communications Officer Christine McGrew told the Daily Press, “Quite honestly, our office would not be in a position to verify that for you as we do not collect such information.”

The sentiment of several High Desert school districts was the same: They’d like to “share insight” on the security systems in place, however, some aspects must be guarded “in order to protect the integrity of the system” from potentially dangerous individuals.

Visitors — including family members of staff and district employees — must check in with a school’s front office staff. Victor Elementary said they “are electronically screened before being allowed on campus;” Hesperia and Apple Valley unified school districts’ officials said they must “provide identification” first.

AVUSD implemented the "Raptor System" last fall to scan visitor IDs and screen them “through a variety of databases,” district spokesperson Kristin Hernandez said, noting that, “Additionally, all approved volunteers, and staff, undergo a background check and fingerprinting."

Barstow Unified School District protocol is a bit more strict: “Our Board Policy prohibits employees’ children, family or friends visiting the school campus during school hours unless prior approval is secured from the administration,” BUSD Superintendent Jeff Malan said.

VESD and HUSD officials said their districts have “a closed-circuit video feed that continuously monitors each campus,” accessible to trained district staff and displayed on a large monitor in school offices as a deterrent. HUSD Assistant Superintendent David Olney said the HUSD Police Department can also view the video feed during the school day and after hours.

“Our experienced officers come to us from law enforcement agencies from San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Riverside counties,” Olney said, adding that they have mandated quarterly trainings at the San Bernardino County Training Center, and conduct weekly briefings at school sites to conduct threat assessments.

AVUSD’s police also patrol district schools' "surrounding areas and the bus stops,” Hernandez said, while VESD sites are staffed with school safety coordinators and deputies from the County Sheriff’s Department.

Barstow Unified receives support directly from the Barstow Police Department, Malan said, “in the form of two dedicated School Resource Officers” who, along with administration, he says “have done a great job making sure our sites are protected.”

Although Americans’ fears about school violence increased dramatically after the Columbine shootings, according to the National School Safety Center, their 2006 data show that students are in fact two times as likely to be victims of serious violence away from school.

That ratio could be changing, however.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that while the rate of “serious violent victimization” against students ages 12 to 18 was generally lower at school than away from school in most survey years between 1992 and 2008, the rate was "not measurably different" between 2009 and 2014.

Last updated in May 2016, the NCES data online show that the percentage of youth homicides occurring at school remained at less than three percent of the total number of youth homicides. However, the “total victimization rate” at school versus away is a closer number: In 2014, there were 33 victimizations per 1,000 students at school and 24 victimizations per 1,000 students away from school.

Regardless of the exact statistics, local educators agree that emergency preparation is key.

During a professional development presentation for Victor Valley Union High School District teachers last year, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputy Stephen Kessler said school staff should be aware of how to determine “threat assessment,” including four different types of threats — direct, indirect, veiled and conditional.

Kessler explained that even homework assignments may contain “scary” material that should serve as warning signs of threatening behavior, and teachers should always report anything they feel uneasy about.

The “see something, say something” rule may seem trite, but it's crucial, the deputies said.

“If you have the mindset that it won’t happen to you, that’s a very dangerous mindset,” deputy Deon Filer said, pointing out that schools practice fire drills much more often than active shooter drills. “Especially in the High Desert.”

Similarly, the president of School Safety Operations International, Jeff Kaye, told the Daily Press that the best approach is to be proactive.

“If we’re prepared for a terrorist attack, like what we saw in San Bernardino, we’re prepared for everything,” Kaye said. “Don’t be a victim … Be aware. Know that you may have to fight back.”

While saving lives is the crux, maintaining updated school safety plans is also key to learning, studies show.

A report published in “Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis” found that “students are directly affected by shootings,” displayed by ninth-grade enrollment declines in schools that experience homicidal shootings and standardized test results dropping “significantly” in schools that experience a shooting.

A statement from 1st District Supervisor Robert Lovingood following the San Bernardino school shooting last week noted that the County Department of Behavioral Health and its Crisis Response Team activated an ACCESS crisis line at 888-743-1478, along with the District Attorney’s Victim Services Counseling Line being available at 909-382-3846.

The California School Boards Association also provided a list of trauma and safety resources for educators and parents to help them speak with children after a school shooting and to manage student distress, available online.

Charity Lindsey may be contacted at clindsey@vvdailypress.com or 760-951-6245. Follow her on twitter @DP_Charity.