State school board urges full school safety review
The West Virginia School Board has asked West Virginia Department of Education staff to reach out to national experts on school safety issues.
“I think it might be prudent to bring in national experts to look at the current status of school safety,” said Board President Wade Linger. “While I understand that our state has conducted school safety reviews in the past, I believe further input will ensure we don’t have a blind spot.”
West Virginia has allocated $30 million to school districts in recent years to be used for school access safety. All school districts had to develop school access safety plans. The funds were used to upgrade security systems that restrict access to school buildings by unauthorized individuals.
Examples of access upgrades include replacement of exterior doors with access control and electronic lock-out devices that can be controlled from the main school office by trained staff. Building exteriors have been modified in some cases to remove shrubbery, install cameras and install bollards signs on doors to discourage unwanted intruders from entering a school.
Training is seen as a major component of the safety program. As part of the funding, each district had to appoint a school safety director. Training guides were developed and teachers and other staff were trained.
Mandatory name tags and sign-in sheets are now required at each school.
In addition, the West Virginia Legislature passed a bill in 2011 requiring that the state school board, in conjunction with the office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, adopt up-to-date crisis response plans at every school in the state. All schools are required to have the plans in place by the coming school year.