BOE passes school safety upgrades
The Trousdale County School Board of Education took several measures to improve school safety in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn. school shootings in December. During its February meeting, the school board approved an estimated $160,000 to provide double security entrances in all three schools.
The double security entrances will be enhanced with laminated glass, security cameras and magnetic lock systems along with panic buttons that will automatically lock all entrance doors and alert police simultaneously. The security enhancements are scheduled to be in place prior to the 2013-14 school year. The board also passed a series of policy revisions that require staff, as well as students, to keep entrance doors secure during the instructional day while requiring staff to immediately report potential hazards to principals.
Other policy revisions require principals to include armed intruder lockdown drills as part of the schools’ annual emergency preparedness drills.
A noticeable policy change that visitors will experience immediately is the requirement that all visitors shall surrender a photo ID in exchange for obtaining a guest pass prior to entering areas beyond the school offices.
“We were already doing most of these procedures; however, it is important that we improve upon these precautions and conduct them with fidelity to ensure that we are doing everything possible to protect our students from the threat of an unauthorized intruder,” said Director of Schools Clint Satterfield.
Satterfield also noted that it is important for our community to know that school violence is lower than it has ever been and that schools are still a very safe place for children.
"We have incorporated secure entrances and intruder identification procedures for years, but we just want to ensure that we reexamine everything we do in order to maximize school safety, which has and will always be our number one concern," said Satterfield.
The school district asks parents to help educate students about emergency preparedness by teaching them to:
• Report all persons appearing improperly at school to the teacher immediately.
• Help keep all outside doors secure, and to report unsecured exit doors to the teacher.
• Take school emergency drills seriously and to always follow the teacher’s directions. Calling parents with different instructions from school procedures places everyone in more danger.
• Do not use cell phones in a “lockdown” emergency. The noise of cell phones could put students in more danger. An intruder may be searching for people and be attracted to the sounds of cell phones or talking. It is imperative to be absolutely silent during “lockdown” emergencies.
• Some cell phone frequencies can even trigger explosive devices.
• Teach your child to be patient with the parent/student reunification procedure. The school will return students to parents as soon as possible; however, rushing to the school requires more time of staff and inhibits law enforcement from protecting students.
Each school in the district is presently in the process of educating and practicing its revised emergency preparedness plans with staff and students.