GOOCHLAND, Va. (WWBT) - New safety and security measures have been put in place at all Goochland County Schools ahead of the 2019-2020 school year.
Superintendent Dr. Jeremey Raley posted to Facebook Wednesday about some of the major changes teachers, staff, students and parents will notice once the school year starts Monday, Aug. 19.
“As we prepare for the excitement and anticipation of another excellent school year, I know that the recent tragedies in both El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, are on your mind,” Raley said. “These unfortunate events prompt questions from all of us-parents, teachers, students, and everyone in our Goochland Family.”
Over the last 18 months, administrators have focused on implementing new security measures, training and the hiring of new personnel to improve safety and security across the school division.
"School safety is certainly a collective responsibility,” Raley said. “There's no one person, no one piece of equipment, no one strategy that's going to 100% contribute to school security."
Families will see changes in three major areas come the start of the school year; infrastructure and capital improvements, transportation and personnel.
Visible changes at all Goochland schools include new phones in every classroom.
“These devices will now allow every teacher to communicate quickly with building administrators or emergency dispatchers,” Raley said. “[Originally] they had to call the office first to get an outside line, so this allows a greater response rate, better communication and empowers our staff in a crisis situation to have that communication instantaneously."
In 2018, improvements were made to the schools including the installation of equipment that monitors doors access, the installation of door position controls, re-keying all exterior locks, and installing cameras at all elementary schools.
Families can expect to notice changes on the road as well. According to Raley, the school division will begin to enforce an ordinance adopted by the Goochland County Board of Supervisors in June that allows the school system to impose a $250 fine if a motorist passes a bus while it is stopped and its red lights are flashing.
“We have installed cameras on the exterior and on the front windshield of buses on seven different routes to help us enforce the law that prevent passing our buses,” Raley said. "I've been told there are some routes where it happens daily.”
That money gathered from the fine will go back to the County, according to Raley.
Additionally, the school division created a Licensed Mental Health Counselor position to provide “socio-emotional support” for students and families in light of the ongoing tragedies our country is seeing.
“In addition to providing direct support to student, (Ms. Allison Mears) will serve as a resource for administrators and teachers who are seeking strategies to meet the needs of students,” Raley said. "The socio-emotional needs of students in 2019 are much different than they ever have been."
The presence of School Resource Officers will continue in the new year with the support of the Goochland Sheriff’s Office.
As a way to stay prepared in the event of an emergency, over the summer the administrative team attended a two-day training with the Department of Homeland Security.
“The focus of this training was on proactive planning, response during an event, and subsequent recovery,” Raley said.
In June administrators also conducted a simulated active shooting training with assistance from county agencies to improve proactive planning and response.
“There were simulated gun shots, the tactical team was here,” Raley said. “I hope that we never ever experience that.”
NBC12 reached out to surrounding school systems to compare these proactive measures:
“Our greatest security measures are what we can do proactively,” Raley said. "For every tragedy that has taken place in America’s schools, hundreds more have surely been prevented because of staff members who are committed to knowing students and showing they care.”
The school system encourages students and families to report any concerns they may have. The ANONYMOUS reporting system will once again be utilized to allow people to report threats, bullying or other safety concerns. Reports can be received via text message, web site, e-mail or phone.
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