COLUMBIA, SC — Midlands school officials moved quickly to assure parents and the public that safety and security are top priorities, in the wake of Fridays Connecticut school shooting,
We just completed a security review of our whole district, said Mark Bounds, a spokesman for Lexington-Richland 5. We take these things very seriously.
In Richland 1, spokeswoman Karen York said school officials did not alter normal security routines but kept close watch on the television coverage of the unfolding tragedy.
Obviously, when you have anything of that nature and magnitude, people in other districts take heed, she said. Richland 1, like every other district, has security precautions in place so that unauthorized people cannot enter schools without providing identification.
Now, it is common for visitors to enter by the schools front entrance, be directed to the school office, and produce a drivers license or other identification for scanning. Visitors cannot roam school halls without an escort. Normally, all exterior doors are locked except for the front entrance of the school.
In Richland 2, we are constantly evaluating safety, said spokesman Ken Blackstone. I think that there are certainly times of reflection that these horrific tragedies bring about, but the main thing that I would like the public to know is safety and security is being evaluated on a continuing basis.
Still, the shootings prompted some parents to call schools and district offices to check in with local officials to seek reassurance.
Every time an event like that happens, our schools get calls, said Mary Beth Hill, spokeswoman for Lexington 1. She has a prepared response that provides parents with concrete evidence of the security measures in place throughout the schools.
Blackstone said he spoke with one principal who fielded calls from parents after learning of the Connecticut shooting. Bounds said a handful of parents called the Lexington-Richland 5 district office.
They just wanted to know what we normally do, and are our schools safe, he said.
Last summer, Lexington-Richland 5 brought in Bill Bond, the former principal of a Paducah, Ky., high school that experienced one of the nations first mass shootings when a freshman student fired on eight fellow students, killing three and wounding five others. Bond now travels the country as a school safety specialist to help schools prepare for the unthinkable and its aftermath while providing expertise to help schools develop safe learning environments.
We feel pretty good about (our security) but obviously when something like this happen, we are going to take another look at it, Bounds said. He said school officials were reassured early on that the shooting was not a terrorist act.
Michael Poole, the districts security and safety specialist, said Lexington-Richland 5 conducts lockdown drills at least once a year in the district.
We secure the exterior doors as well as the interior doors, he said. Teachers are instructed to turn off lights and assemble children in an area of the classroom that cannot be seen from the classroom door window.