Increased police presence at Central Va. schools; Youngkin orders school security review

For parents who have students in public schools, extra security was a welcomed sign.
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 2:36 PM EDT|Updated: May. 25, 2022 at 4:13 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Extra police officers were on hand at school buildings across the metro Richmond area Wednesday in response to a school shooting in Texas. For parents who have students in public schools it was a sign of reassurance.

“It’s sickening and it doesn’t need to happen. There are things we can do to stop this from happening in our country and we just continue to fail to do those things,” said Jason Kamras, Richmond Public Schools Superintendent.

Superintendent Kamras says the division also conducted additional bag searches as students entered school buildings. Kamras says they’ve spent the day having honest conversations with students about concerns but also what security measures are in place to prevent an unwanted visitor from getting inside a school building.

“Dealing with my own fear as a parent that when I send them to school will they come back and dealing with my son being afraid,” said State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-9th District.

The lawmaker is also a mother of two Richmond Public School students.

But the division is no stranger to gun violence. Kamras says the number of students who have died because of shootings within the city continues to take its own toll.

“I still struggle to deal with it four years in; it’s the part of my job that I hate the most - it’s writing those letters of condolences,” said Kamras.

To enter a city school building, Kamras says people must be let in. The doors are always locked. He also said school leaders recently reviewed active shooter plans and protocols.

“I had in my toolbox to tell my son when he told me he was scared was to tell him that I’m doing everything I can to keep him safe,” said McClellan.

At the state level, Gov. Glenn Youngkin is asking for the Virginia General Assembly to approve a budget that includes $50 million for more school resources officers.

But others say that money is needed for better mental health resources.

“My fear is too much of the conversation is going to focus on school resource officers and security and not enough on mental health services,” said McClellan.

The General Assembly will come back next Wednesday to take up the budget. And then you can expect more gun legislation pushed when lawmakers come back again in January.

Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter released the following statement:

“This morning, Governor Youngkin received a briefing from Secretary Robert Mosier, Secretary Aimee Guidera, Secretary John Littel, and State Superintendent Jillian Balow about actions taken to protect children in schools and the resources available at the state level to provide mental health access as needed in response to yesterday’s tragedy in Uvalde, TX. The Governor has asked his administration to evaluate steps already taken and future steps to help ensure our schools are safe. The Governor previously requested an additional $50 million in the budget for School Resource Officers and is hopeful the General Assembly will prioritize this important request.”

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