As Classes Start, Schools Upgrade Security

Published: August 23, 2022

The mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas in May as well as some other local incidents have prompted many schools, districts, cities, and states to review and update security on their K-12 campuses.

Here’s a run-down of what some campuses, districts, localities, and states are doing.

Five districts in Portage County, Wisconsin will receive state funding to upgrade school security, reports the Record-Courier. Depending on the school, access control and visitor management will be bolstered, and security cameras and school bus radios will be upgraded. Some are replacing outside doors and old card access systems.

New York City is also ramping up school security, reports the New York Post. Real-time emergency notifications are one upgrade. Additionally, the state’s Department of Education is working to enable public schools to lock their front doors while giving first responders emergency access. The DOE is also spending $9 million in federal stimulus funds to place violence interrupters on the city’s payroll. Two hundred school safety agents will also soon be graduating and will patrol campuses, although some question if that number will make up for the other officers who have recently retired.

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In Madison County, North Carolina, AR-15 rifles are being placed in emergency safes in each of its six schools, along with extra ammunition and door breaching tools, reports the Citizen Times.

Panic buttons are gaining in popularity nationwide, reports CNBC. For example, the CrisisAlert system is being installed in suburban Kansas City schools. Las Vegas schools and the Houston County district have also adopted panic alarm technology. Long before Uvalde, some states, such as Florida and New Jersey, passed Alyssa’s Law, which requires schools to use panic buttons.

In Philadelphia, the district will partner with the Philadelphia Police Department to expand its Safe Zones Initiative, reports WHYY. Now, 27 safe zones will encompass 40 district and charter schools to provide more uniformed police officers at school dismissal times. The district already was screening for weapons at six middle schools, starting last May. Additionally,  the district is investing in video surveillance systems for its 19 high schools.

In Branford, Connecticut, its three elementary schools and Early Learning Center school building will now have an unarmed security officer on each campus, reports Zip06.

In Michigan, a bill has just passed allocating $97 million toward school security, reports WNEM. Schools can apply for as much as $2,000 per building. Some K-12 campuses are upgrading their exterior and interior locks, as well as improving communications with local first responders. Some are focusing on training and conducting active shooter exercises.

In Alexandria, Virginia, the district has acquired an app to improve communications inside school buildings as well as to parents, reports WJLA. Campus wifi and PA systems have also been upgraded, and SRO funding has been approved. Additionally, the district has added a social and emotional learning program to address student mental health challenges and learning loss. To address school bus and teacher shortages, bus drivers and teachers received raises.

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