Prioritizing school safety

Published 10:01 am Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Students and administration in a high school in Parkland, Fla., its surrounding community and the country were 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, as well as the role of law enforcement and government agencies in safety and weapon regulation, and addressing the unimaginable trauma experienced by victims of mass shootings.

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Prince Edward County Public Schools has responded in rare form to a serious threat made by a student on the afternoon of Feb. 28. Contacting law enforcement, launching an internal investigation and increasing police presence the following day and until the end of the week shows a quick and thorough response to concerns that are increasingly growing for area teachers, administration and school staff.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), in response to the Florida school shooting, encourages school divisions in Virginia to enact or strengthen their Emergency Operations Plans (EOP), which are “developed in collaboration with division administrators, school personnel, rescue personnel, firefighters, law enforcement, hospital personnel, counselors, psychologist, social workers, parents and other community stakeholders,” the VDOE website noted. “Students and staff practice evacuating, locking-down and sheltering-in-place drills to ready themselves in case an incident occurs. Data is collected annually and analyzed to improve building security and emergency plans.”

To learn more about the plans, visit ych76nrr.

Prince Edward County Public Schools noted in a press release that it will increase school drills into the spring, and will notify parents via School Messenger when the drills will be taking place. This is another example of the quick and needed action the division has taken in response to the incident.

We at The Herald continue to encourage area school divisions to take to heart the necessity to prepare and protect their students and teachers for acts of violence and emergencies. We encourage citizens to make their concerns known to state and government officials, to push for increased safety in schools, for increased regulation of automatic rifle weapons and for prompter responses from local, state and government organizations to those displaying troubling or worrying behavior.