After Texas Shooting, Schools Around U.S. Boost Security
ItIn the aftermath of Uvalde Elementary School’s massacre, Texas schools have added security staff to protect them from copycat threats.
It has been a difficult time for educators and families to deal with the aftermath of Sandy Hook Elementary School’s 2012 shooting that left dozens dead.
Jake Green (34), from Los Alamos in New Mexico was shocked to see a plainclothes officer while walking with his daughter, 7 years old, into school on Friday morning. Colorado is where he grew up. In 1999, Columbine High School students killed twelve classmates and one teacher. Green remembers attending memorials and candlelight vigils as a fifth-grader, but he’s torn about whether having police at his daughter’s school is best.
“In a way, I don’t really feel any safer with police around,” Green said. “Seeing the police there, it really made it seem like the worst possibility was even more possible today.”
School are in danger after 23 were killed by a gunman at El Paso, Texas. The attack was racist and targeted Hispanics who worked at Walmart. Some threats made to the El Paso Independent School district have been reported but proved false. They were either “students joking or overly-sensitive parents,” said Gustavo Reveles Acosta, a district spokesperson.
“Our community is still raw from that incident,” Acosta said. “It hits us in a pretty emotional way.”
District has its own police force and has increased patrolling on all 85 campuses. The officers were removed from duties such as traffic surveillance or any other tasks. School surveillance cameras are already up-to-date. Visitors must first ring the bell and then show their identification to gain entry.
The district is making a point to look out for teachers’ and students’ mental health. To talk to students and teachers about Uvalde, a counselor team visited every school. A counseling team has been visiting schools to speak with students about the shooting in Uvalde.
Mia Baucom (15 years old) was a student at Forth Worth’s high school. She said that it was strange to believe the Uvalde murders took place in Texas. This also brought back memories of the lockdown that her school experienced two months prior due to a shooting.
“I’m a little more stressed out about it because just the fear of what if that happened at my school?” said Baucom, whose last day of school was Thursday. “Let’s say we get more police officers. Most likely that’s not going to stop people from going crazy and just shooting up schools.”
Following Tuesday’s attack that resulted in the deaths of 19 students, two teachers, and a school officer, many schools increased police presence in several states.
New York’s largest school district has announced security measures in Buffalo after a gunman shot and killed 10 people during a racist attack at a supermarket. Any visitors — parents, siblings, vendors — have to call ahead for approval. They will not allow exceptions. A wand detector may search them. All doors will remain locked.
In Jacksonville, Florida, the Duval County Public Schools’ chief of school police banned backpacks or large handbags at any school through Friday, the last day of school. Even small purses could be searched, but they were not allowed.
After a discredit threat was made against Uvalde’s middle school, a Texas district located 200 miles (320 km) southwest of Uvalde decided to close the school year one week earlier. Kingsville Independent Schools District declared Friday as the final day of school. Students should not be penalized for the early end of the school year.
“In light of the tragedy in Uvalde, there has been an enormous amount of stress and trauma. Unfortunately, more stress and trauma are added with ‘copy-cat threats’ that start circulating such as the one that was sent today for Gillett (Middle School),” Superintendent Dr. Cissy Reynolds-Perez wrote in a statement on the district’s website.
It’s clear staff and students nationwide are on edge as several reports of firearm sightings on campuses have popped up in the past few days.
Police eventually found an airsoft pistol in two schools located in Seattle. Schools in Everett (Washington) were then released from lockdown.
After a Denver high school shut down its campus, two people were taken into custody. The police found one paintball gun, but not other guns. Classes were cancelled regardless.
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