Hopewell sees decrease in school violence after implementing new safety initiatives

A new cell phone policy, clear backpacks and weapons scanners are among the changes
A new cell phone policy, clear backpacks and weapons scanners are among the changes.
Published: Aug. 18, 2023 at 1:00 PM EDT
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HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - After the Hopewell school division saw a rise in violence, a number of new safety initiatives were recently passed. So far, Hopewell has been seeing results.

Hopewell Schools wanted to tackle keeping cell phones out of students’ hands during the school day with lockable pouches.

“That’s working well for us,” said Hopewell Schools Director of Communications Byron Davis.

The school system also made it mandatory for elementary students to use a clear backpack in order to reduce the number of weapons coming into the schools. Right now, Hopewell says it doesn’t plan on expanding that out to include older students.

“Well, that’s partly because we have those security measures of already walking through the scanners already at the senior level,” Davis explained.

Hopewell brought those new weapons scanners into its middle and high school buildings, and so far, they say they’ve been working. They’ve only had one firearm detected on school property since they started using the new screening devices, whereas during the 2021-2022 school year, Hopewell recorded several instances of firearms being brought onto school grounds.

“We want everyone to feel safe and know that the focus is instruction and to not feel distracted or in danger,” Davis said.

As the school division looks to the new year, officials say they don’t currently have any new safety policies on the agenda that they’re trying to pass. However, they want to continue reducing violence among students by addressing pandemic learning loss and social and emotional development.

That’s why they’re urging students to sign up for additional instruction under their intersession courses.

“That is entirely free for families, so they can choose to do that they can choose to take vacation, but we want the opportunity to spend more time with them and to do some amazing things with them,” stated Davis.

The fall intersession courses will begin at the end of September.