CCPS works to keep students safe

Published 8:30 am Friday, June 3, 2022

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In the wake of shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow has reached out to superintendents around the commonwealth for their views on what additional school safety measures the state should take.

“Our hearts are broken and the Uvalde community is in our prayers,” Balow said in a press release. “As we grieve for the innocent children and teachers who died in this evil and senseless act, we must also review all of the facts as they come to light and determine what additional steps we can take to protect our students and faculty members — and everyone who visits one of our 2,381 schools and local and regional programs.”

In Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS) officials have taken precautions over the years to ensure students are kept safe.

“School doors are locked and guests are required to use the buzzer system at the main entrance to be pre-screened by office staff before entering the building.” CCPS Superintdent Robbie Mason said. “Also, new camera systems are in place for the interior and exterior of all schools which are remotely accessible by School Resource Officers and school officials.”

Mason said that lockdown drills are conducted with students and staff throughout the school year and school administrators participate in frequent crisis and threat assessment training at the federal, state, and local levels.

According to Mason CCPS works with the Sheriff’s Department to allow for joint reviews of school crisis plans.

“School threat assessment teams are utilized when a student’s behavior or comments are deemed as a possible threat by school officials.” Mason said. Recommendations from these teams allow for the determination of threat credibility and additional resources for students who may need mental health assistance.”

Several school leaders and law enforcement members have stressed the importance of the School Security Equipment Grants program that the General Assembly created in 2013 in the wake of Sandy Hook.

The criteria for receiving the grants give priority to schools most in need of modern security equipment, schools with relatively high numbers of offenses, schools with equipment needs identified by a school security audit and schools in divisions least able to afford security upgrades.

The 2019 General Assembly doubled the total annual appropriation for the grant program from $6 million to $12 million. The legislature also increased the maximum award per school division from $100,000 to $250,000.

In 2013, Virginia became the first state in the nation to require K-12 schools to establish threat assessment teams.

Schools in the commonwealth are also required to maintain updated crisis management plans and conduct annual school security audits.