Prioritizing school safety

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Students and administration in a high school in Parkland, Florida, its surrounding community and the country was rocked Feb. 14 when a gunman killed 17 people, including instructors and students.

The shooting has created questions and concerns about addressing students and teachers’ safety, about weapons, particularly automatic rifles, the role of law enforcement and government agencies in safety and weapon regulation and addressing the unimaginable trauma experienced by victims of mass shootings.

Administration with Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS), the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police (VSP) have responded in rare form to the increasing concerns from area students, teachers, administration and school staff.

CCPS and VSP’s Adopt-a-School program will enable officiers to provide increased security to area schools. In addition, VSP specialist will also take walkthroughs in the schools and make recommendations for increased security measures.

CCPS Superintendent Dr. Nancy Leonard said the security grants received from the state in the past two years, totaling approximately $200,000 have also helped and have allowed the division to install cameras within and outside school buildings and installed a swipe entry mechanism that records the entry and leaving of people at the schools. Leonard said in addition to the Adopt-a- School Safety Program, officers with Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office will be located at all three of the elementary schools in the division to assist the resource officer and Randolph-Henry High School will install a partition in the entrance of the school that will allow visitors to report directly to the school office. Students will also take part in additional age-appropriate emergency drills. “We all have to operate now under the assumption that it’s not if something happens, it’s when something happens,” Leonard said, “and we have to think like that daily with security.” Leonard offers a sobering view of what school administration, staff, students, teachers, parents and community members are facing. We at The Gazette offer our highest support and commendation to the CCPS school division for taking a proactive approach to make the school system as safe and prepared for emergencies as possible.