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TCSS schools are in “soft lockdown” all the time, according to the safety plan. School system wants to keep ‘learning from the mistakes’ of nation’s mass shootings – LaGrange Daily News

School safety remains a priority for parents and school officials, especially after the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed.

The Troup County school system has long established a school safety plan, including fire drills and a hazardous weather plan, both of which are required by the state of Georgia to be conducted throughout the school year. ‘school year.

Lockdown drills are also not new to the school system and are conducted quarterly with the help of law enforcement.

“I think over the past two years we have made significant progress [in school safety]said Deputy Superintendent Chip Medders.

“I think we’re improving and learning from the mistakes we’ve seen domestically.”

Steve Heaton, TCSS School Safety Coordinator, is responsible for leading area law enforcement, public safety divisions and school personnel with such drills. In light of recent events, security measures at area schools and school-related functions continue to be assessed ahead of the next school year, he said. Area schools of all calibers are constantly in ‘soft lockdown’ to maintain the safety of students and staff and staff are constantly advised to be prepared for any situation.

On Thursday, Heaton updated the school board on TCSS’s security plan and the adjustments that have been made in recent years to implement stricter security measures.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to have this conversation, but it’s a necessary evil in the current climate,” said Heaton, who was hired as school safety coordinator in 2020.

During lockdown drills, which simulate an intruder entering the school, law enforcement officers walk through the school and check doors to make sure they are locked, look in classrooms for s Ensure lights are off and students and teachers are out of sight and quiet.

“They’re screaming and screaming and screaming, they’re shaking doors,” Heaton said, adding that law enforcement was giving feedback after the drills. “Overall, I think we’re doing a good job at [the drills,] but there is still room for improvement and we will continue to work with that.

Security site visits are conducted once a year by law enforcement, emergency management and fire departments.

These routine visits are made to all schools in Troup County so that officers can familiarize themselves with the layout of each school and can interact with staff and students. Their presence in schools, as outlined in the security plan, exists to deter potential threats. Law enforcement officers also check exits and entrances for blockages or weak spots.

“We heard on the news about the Texas school shooting how the shooter entered the school and the classrooms were open,” Heaton said. “We are constantly working with our staff to keep them in a soft lockdown and the outside doors locked.”

Other recent precautions include the introduction of Centegix badges. With three clicks of the badges button, law enforcement officers and other necessary agents will be sent to the school that sends the signal. Emergencies can extend to fires, intruders, and conflicts between students and teachers. Emergencies can extend to fires, intruders, and conflicts between students and teachers. Badges are issued to teachers annually and to substitute teachers upon entering a school. The badges contain GPS technology and can be deactivated remotely in the event of theft.

BELOW CONSIDERATION

For the future, Heaton suggested the placement of additional school resource officers in elementary schools.

His suggestion would be to introduce at least 11 ORS, which could cost the school system $637,589, as outlined in the school safety plan.

LaGrange, Hogansville, West Point Police Departments and the Troup County Sheriff’s Office would provide financial support for equipment, uniforms and benefits, according to the plan.

Heaton also suggested setting up more metal detectors or weapons identification systems in every school – basically two units per secondary school, one unit per elementary school.

The cost of purchasing detectors or identification systems is approximately $4,500 to $6,000 per unit.

Staffing the detectors, which Heaton said would require at least 23 people, would cost about $40,000 per person, $920,000 combined.

“Security doesn’t come cheap, but it’s absolutely necessary,” Heaton said.

School board members shared their thoughts on the ideas presented.

Board member Ferrell Blair expressed doubts about the functionality of the metal detector.

“I have a piece of steel in my shoulder and when I walk through a metal detector it doesn’t trigger, but if I have a key in my pocket it triggers it,” Blair said. “I’m concerned about their effectiveness.”

Board Chair Cathy Hunt asked if, in a time when hundreds or even thousands of students need to be checked at the same time, all students would be safely checked and still going to their classes on time.

Heaton said that under the right circumstances and with the doctors properly staffed, rapid testing was possible. Noting Ferrell’s concerns, he said the technology had its flaws but was still sufficient.

“It’s technology, so it’s going to pick,” Heaton said, adding that most metal detectors can be tuned for sensitivity.

Medders said the school system already has six metal detectors that are primarily used at sporting events. They are also used at Hope Academy and the Troup County Career Center. The school board said it would consider budgeting for more metal detectors and OARs in the future, but doing so in the next school year would require a budget adjustment.

“We could pass a budget amendment and come back in July and kick it off,” Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate said.

“That does not mean that we will have [11 SROs] by September it will probably be a little more in the fall and throughout the year.

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