USA Today took a nationwide look at how school safety has changed in the months following the Sandy Hook shootings. The reporters found schools across the country making changes to building structures as well as staffing. Some schools have even armed their teachers.
“In a grim reminder that mass shootings have become a fact of life in America, school districts across the USA this fall are opting for more locked doors, more visitor check-ins and more surveillance equipment. Many have had security policies on the books for years, especially after the 1999 Columbine High School shootings. But the massacre last December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 children and six educators, introduced a new level of urgency. Suddenly, even children in elementary schools were not safe from bad guys….
“Limiting access to school property has been one of the most visible changes. School officials in Marlboro, N.J. budgeted $1.8 million this school year for security measures, including construction of “man-trap” vestibules at entrances to be completed later this fall. In Tupelo, Miss., school officials made a slew of upgrades this summer, including new playground fencing. School district officials in several states, including New York and Pennsylvania, have asked election officials to move polling places off their campuses.”
“Another common response: increasing the presence of armed law enforcement officers, particularly at elementary schools. Police officers have been assigned to all middle and high schools at South Carolina’s Greenville County School District for decades, but this year, the district has arranged for police to also make stops at all 68 elementary schools several times a day. Each of the 24 public elementary schools in Rutherford County, Tenn., has been assigned a full-time officer this year for the first time. One of their first assignments: Help organize an “intruder drill” within the first 30 days of the school year, as required by a Tennessee law passed this summer.”…
The story reports that The National Association of School Resource Officers, based in Hoover, Ala., trained more than 2,000 law officers how to work with schools. It only trained 600 the summer before.
“Schools also are basing strategies on local needs and experience. As part of its security plan, the Ricori school district in Cold Spring, Minn., where two students were killed in a 2003 school shooting, installed 170 bulletproof white boards in classrooms over the summer and trained teachers how to gather and hide children behind them.”
What security measures has your school added? Does it feel safer? Were you worried before? Are you less worried now?