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Teachers question safety, profession after Denver high school shooting

Longtime teachers said they feel less safe now than when they started their careers.

DENVER — During spring break, Jefferson County teachers hoped they would be able to take a break from the work and difficulties that come with being in the classroom.

Instead, after two administrators were injured in a shooting at East High School, they are fixated on the challenges and dangers they face as part of their profession. 

"That was not in the plan for spring break this year," said Rhiannon Wenning, a social studies teacher at Jefferson Junior Senior High School.

The reality teachers face is they question if or when violence could impact their lives or the lives of their students.

"Are we an extra target? Are we a sitting duck? Those things go through your mind all the time," said Genevieve Bassett, a social studies teacher at Alameda International Junior Senior High School. 

Longtime teachers said they have never felt less safe at work. 

"Twenty years ago, when I started teaching, we didn’t do lockdowns drills," Wenning said. "I didn’t have to turn to my students and say that if this happens in real life, my number one job is to keep you all safe." 

While not in their district, the East High School shooting strikes a chord.

"Part of my job description was not shield myself from gunfire," Wenning said. 

Both Wenning and Bassett have taught students with safety plans in the past, but never to the point where a student needed to be patted down. They said a safety plan with that need would make them nervous. 

"It isn’t something that we should have to do in education. We shouldn’t have to think about patting down our students before they’re able to enter our building so we can ensure the safety of others, but again, it’s a reality that we face together in education," Wenning said. 

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