Districts ramp up safety protocols after Uvalde shooting

Education

(NewsNation) — With the new school year coming up, districts are spending millions on equipment — and giving staff extensive training — to keep their schools safe.

It’s especially important, school officials say, after the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that took the lives of 19 students and two teachers.

At Houston Independent School District, Superintendent Millard House II said the school board has approved a request for $2.3 million in new equipment used to defend its buildings from any similar attacks. This includes money for upgrading police officers’ equipment with two-way radios, as well as breaching tools, rifles, gun safes, ballistic plates, medical kits and shields, FOX 26 Houston reported.

Houston Independent School District is large, House pointed out, with around 270 campuses, and 200 of its own accredited Texas police officers who participate in active shooter training. Students are not part of that particular training, but they also have lockdown drills and safety training for teachers on campus as well, House said.

Along with the physical safety aspect, HISD officers will participate in programs to build trust with students.

“Security is something that’s extremely important,” House said. “Our police department has spent the summer studying what happened in Uvalde, and our hearts continue to go out in reference to what happened there.”

School districts across the country are taking new safety measures and tightening up defenses this year, especially after the Uvalde attack and other shootings. NewsNation local affiliate WGN reported that the district that serves Highland Park, which saw a July 4 parade shooting earlier this year, is implementing interior and exterior electronic door locks and sensors, bollards to protect school buildings from cars, and two-way radios, among other upgrades.

It’s “heart-wrenching” to have to think about dangerous scenarios, House said.

There are very few organizations, school districts included, he said, that would be prepared for what happened in Uvalde.

“I think that’s no different in a school district like ours,” House said. “We have a very safe school district, we’ve focused on incredible training and we’ll continue to do that over the course of the years to come.”

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