CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) on Wednesday asked West Virginia Department of Education staff to reach out to national experts on school safety issues.
“I think it might be prudent to bring in national experts to look at the current status of school safety,” said Board President Wade Linger. “While I understand that our state has conducted school safety reviews in the past, I believe further input will ensure we don’t have a blind spot.”
West Virginia has allocated $30 million to school districts over the past few years to be used for school access safety. As a part of the grant, all school districts had to develop school access safety plans. The funds were used to upgrade security systems that restrict access to school buildings by unauthorized individuals.
Examples of access upgrades include replacement of exterior doors with access control and electronic lock-out devices that can be controlled from the main school office by trained school staff. The exterior of the buildings have been modified in some cases, such as removing shrubbery, installing bollards and installing signage on exterior doors to discourage unwanted intruders from entering the school.
Additionally, school access funds were used for camera and detection devices, which would not only identify intruders, but also would discourage those individuals who want to enter the building illegally.
Training is also a major component of school access safety. As part of the funding, each district had to appoint a school safety director. Training guides have been developed and teachers and other school staff have been trained on this subject. Mandatory name tags and sign-in sheets are now required at each school.
In addition, in 2011 the Legislature passed a bill that required the WVBE, in conjunction with the office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to adopt administrative regulations for the establishment of an up-to-date school specific crisis response plan at every school in the state. All schools are required to have the plans in place by the coming school year.
“While our school crisis plans have improved dramatically over the past decade, there is still work left to be done,” said Board member William White. “I don’t want to respond to something that has already happened but instead I want to look at how to prevent school tragedies.”
For more information, contact the WVDE Communication Office at 304-558-2699.