Local schools review safety drills in wake of shootings
As they help young children deal with their memories of the gruesome shooting Friday in a Connecticut school, local educators also are reviewing their safety plans to make sure everyone knows what to do in emergencies.
Parents were more concerned about safety than students Monday at Johnson Street Global Studies School, said principal Trent Vernon.
“We had a few calls from concerned parents about our safety procedures,” Vernon said. “We have procedures in place and there was a police presence here and that was comforting for the parents.”
Every school in the district has two lockdown drills each year, according to Guilford County Schools Chief of Staff Nora Carr.
“We sent a note to all principals on Friday asking them to review their plans with staff, practice a lockdown drill, and maintain heightened awareness regarding safety and security,” Carr said.
During the drills, school officials simulate an incident. Students move to their rooms. Lights are turned off and doors closed. Many schools also require visitors to sign in and get photographed. Some visitors must show identification if office staff does not know them.
The district safety officer is working with principals to conduct threat assessments at schools and school officials will be reporting broken lights and doors that don’t lock.
The district has about 20 school resource officers assigned to middle schools and 20 to high schools to provide additional security. Elementary schools don’t have SROs. “Local law enforcement also is stepping up patrols, particularly around elementary schools where we do not have SROs assigned,” Carr said.
The school officers are either police department officers or sheriff’s deputies. They watch hallways as students arrive and leave, check doors and hallways for strangers, and patrol the campuses.
Providing more officers or other security guards will be an issue for the Board of Education.
“There is no easy answer here. I don’t think that having an armed guard in an elementary school would help,” said school board member Ed Price of High Point. “You can’t have a guard at every door. It is so difficult to stop someone who is willing to kill himself to accomplish what he wants to do.”
Meanwhile, teachers will be listening to their students about their concerns or worries.
“It can be hard to know what the little ones understand about something like this,” Vernon said.
Campus Crime Stoppers: In High Point, call 889-4000 and 373-1000 in Greensboro. Students across Guilford County can also text tips to 274637 (CRIMES). Schools reviewing safety drills