(WFXR) — More than two months after the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, school districts across the country are still keeping that tragedy in mind while they consider their own school security.
Lynchburg City Schools say the May shooting in Uvalde is a topic of conversation between their officials and the Lynchburg Police Department.
While Lynchburg City Schools Superintendent Dr. Crystal Edwards says specific security upgrades are confidential for safety, she adds that administrators and law enforcement are teaming up to evaluate security and identify anything that’s been overlooked.
“Those types of tragedies just rock us all, and we never want to see those things happen in a school or community or anywhere,” said Edwards.
Uvalde was on the minds of other districts planning for the fall too.
The superintendent of Botetourt County Public Schools, Jonathan Russ, says that safety has to be schools officials’ number one priority, not just something they talk about.
“Times have changed. We didn’t used to have to worry about our children being slaughtered in a schoolhouse, but it’s happening all over the United States,” Russ told WFXR News.
In Henry County, the school district’s director of communications, Monica Hatchett, says officials review their own safety protocols whenever there’s a major local or national incident.
“We go over what has happened in the past, good or things that we might have ideas for improvement on, not just within our own team within the school division, but we talk with our resource officers, our partners with public safety, and then we determine what we might want to enhance or expand for the coming school year,” said Hatchett.
Neither Lynchburg City Schools nor Henry County Public Schools could provide specific updates on elementary school security upgrades, but both districts are welcoming back regular visitors for the first time since the pandemic, and that brings its own safety concerns.
“We really want to get back to some stringent protocol of having people check in at the front door, not the backdoor, of our schools” said Edwards.
“When someone enters the first set of double doors, which is open to the public, into a lobby area where their drivers license is scanned and that does perform a small version of a background check,” said Hatchett.
Russ actually says all Botetourt County Public Schools employees are aware that the biggest safety breach is leaving doors unlocked and allowing access to the buildings.
“If we can limit entry into the building by delivering something to the door, or if they’re dropping something off for a kid, maybe we pick it up and take it to the child, but it’s a shame that we have to limit access to our building during the day when students are there, but again, I will never apologize for keeping our building safe,” Russ said.
According to Russ, Botetourt County Public Schools will have constant checks to make sure all exterior doors are closed and locked this year. The district will also have school resource officers budgeted for 10 out of its 12 buildings, as well as security buttons and cameras.
After the shooting in Uvalde, the local law enforcement came under fire for not responding accordingly, with Texas lawmakers saying authorities should have acted with more urgency. There was even a report from the Texas House of Representatives saying the school was not adequately prepared.
The superintendent of Botetourt County Public Schools says people need to understand that incidents like the Uvalde shooting could happen anywhere, even southwest or central Virginia.
Meanwhile, Henry County Public Schools and Lynchburg City Schools both say that planning and training with local law enforcement is vital to their crisis response.