In a formal report to the school board on February 26th, Dr. Matt Covington and I explained a three-phase approach to the security needs assessment that will undergird our safety planning efforts. The school division’s position has purposefully been a calculated one. We want to respond appropriately to the recent headlines and the awareness that has resulted across the nation. But we don’t want our safety and security measures to be reactive. Anything we do to ensure safe schools should be what we would do regardless of what might have happened in other localities.
Dr. Covington and I held two follow up meetings in which we continued to review the considerations initially proposed by our county’s first responders. Namely:
- Installation of security surveillance and “buzz-in” entry system at the secondary (GHS/GMS) complex
- Upgrading and replacement of outdoor surveillance at the secondary complex
- Installation of internal surveillance capabilities at the secondary complex
- Improvement of the surveillance systems currently in use at elementary campuses
Understand that these aren’t an exhaustive list of recommendations, but rather an initial and more pressing set of immediate improvements. Our board voted to allocate money to begin these projects immediately. As one board member commented using the analogy of a football game, these improvements are a first down along the way to a touchdown. They aren’t the completion, simply a step in the best direction.
There are certainly other initiatives that began immediately in the interest of the safest environment possible for our staff and students. To summarize our current progress in this area:
- We have begun practicing monthly lock-down drills
- We continue to meet with law enforcement and emergency personnel to review our plans and we anticipate further recommendations soon
- Money has been allocated for security upgrades and we anticipate more funding in the future
- “Active Shooter Training” for all staff has been tentatively scheduled with the Sheriff’s Department to occur prior to the next school year
- We anticipate an increased policy presence on our school campuses
Our greater School Security Task Force, including representatives from community and emergency staff, will meet next week. We are grateful for the vast experience and expertise represented among the members and look forward to an exemplary plan for enhanced school security and crisi response.
A few of the many resources we have consulted thus far:
- National Domestic Preparedness Coalition
- Governor McDonnell’s Crisis Task Force materials (ongoing)
- Material from the VSBA
- Readiness & Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center
- OSHA recommendations
- Material released from the National Joint Terrorism Task Force, Campus Liaison Initiative
- Information released from the US Department of Justice