CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - State lawmakers converged on Meadowbrook High School in Chesterfield to check out their new security measures.
They are part of a committee examining what's working, what's not, and what needs to be done to keep schools safe from attackers.
The protection starts before you even walk through the doors. State lawmakers got to see how a new buzzer system adds an extra layer of security.
"We all like to say, 'boy, if we just do this, it will take care of the problem,' but we have to make sure we do the small things to fill those gaps," said House Speaker Kirk Cox.
Cox wants to keep the issue of gun control out of the discussion.
"I want this committee to accomplish something, and once we devolve into what are political hot button issues, I think we'll lose that," said Cox.
Democrats Schuyler VanValkenburg, Jeff Bourne and Mike Mullin say guns do need to be part of the discussion.
"We should be looking at education in the school classroom. We should be looking at the school community interaction. We should be looking at gun policy. We should be looking at all of these things," said VanValkenburg.
The delegates recently sent a letter to the committee calling for a more comprehensive approach to safety.
"It's not just school shootings; it's bullying, discrimination, day-to-day violence," said VanValkenburg.
Cox says the bipartisan school safety committee will discuss issues such as preparing for emergencies, funding security personnel and mental health support.
"As we're looking at all of these issues, teachers are going to be the key. What are we doing to make sure teachers have what they need - they are seeing the kids first," said Cox.
The goal is for the committee to make recommendations for the General Assembly to consider when it reconvenes next year.
The House Select Committee will meet again in September.
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