NEW YORK (NewsNation) — After Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 students and two teachers dead, police officers have been very visible and vigilant outside schools across America.
The strong show of force provides parents with some peace of mind, but in the long term, school districts will be reassessing their security measures and strategies to keep students and staff safe.
As officials continue their investigation in Uvalde, one of the key questions that remains is how the shooter gained entry into the school.
In New York City, home to the nation’s largest school district, they’re considering a “closed-door” policy.
“Locking our doors once students are in school and making visitors have to stop and identify themselves before they come in. currently as it stands now you don’t have to do that. the buildings are still open,” said David Banks, NYC school chancellor.
In Polk County, Florida, near Tampa, students won’t be allowed to bring backpacks for the remainder of the school year, which ends Friday.
In Virginia, multiple districts have increased security and reiterated students are subject to random searches.
Parents want assurances their kids will be safe in school. Armed school resource officers are helpful, but the cost of placing an officer in every school is more than many districts can afford. There’s also the issue of manpower.
“Most police chiefs and sheriffs will tell you they don’t think they could use the staff to put an officer in every school building and still cover their communities,” said Ken Trump, a school safety and security expert with more than 30 years of experience.
He said the first and best line of defense for schools is a staff well-trained on situational awareness. Look for students behaving differently, like strangers in the parking lot or hallways. Anything that seems unusual and alarming needs to be reported.
“One thing we know for sure from across many of the school shooting incidents is that there were warning signs; somebody knew something. There were behavioral indicators, something posted on social media, but people talk themselves out of reporting it out of fear they’ll be wrong; they’ll be embarrassed.”
Trump advises if people see something, say something, do something.
“People need to be aware and prepared but not scared,” he said.
When responding to an active shooter incident, Trump said the basics are still the best practices to save lives.
“The basic fundamental drills work: lockdowns, police-controlled evacuations, sheltering in place, parent-student reunification, all of those drills work,” he said.
Trump said superintendents and principals should use their downtime during the summer break to review their emergency plans and train staff on situational awareness and making good decisions under stressful situations like an active shooter incident.