Following the Robb Elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, schools are trying to do what they can to protect students and staff from similar catastrophes.
At the Frisco Independent School District (ISD) Career and Technical Education Center, such vigilance can be as simple as ensuring exterior doors are in working order and properly locked.
“We value every child that comes in here,” Assistant Principal Travis Volk told CBS News. “Our biggest thing is to ensure our building is secure from the outside first. If there’s anything wrong, we get them fixed immediately.”
Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath stated that the agency would review the external entry points of every K-12 school before the start of the next school year, the Texas Tribune reported. The state has over 1,200 school districts and over 3,000 campuses.
According to a Texas special legislative committee report on the Uvalde massacre, a teacher had left a back door propped open, allowing the gunman access to the school as previously reported by The Dallas Express. Authorities later clarified that when the teacher saw the gunman, she shut the door, but the automatic lock failed.
Volk told CBS that teachers and staff regularly ensure that doors are locked when walking the halls and that the school staff is constantly monitoring cameras posted at every door.
“In a moment’s notice, we can close that door, and it’s locked from the outside. Once our students are inside the classroom for class time, our doors are shut, and they’re closed, and they’re locked,” he said. “So in order for me to gain access to go in there, and visit a classroom, I have to use my key to gain access there.”
All of Frisco ISD’s campuses have been mapped out with the city for years, CBS reported. If there is an incident on campus, police and firefighters will know precisely where to go before they arrive, Jon Bodie, director of emergency management at Frisco ISD, explained. Bodie stated that police have access to all their campuses’ cameras, not just the mapping.
“So our first responders can see the camera feeds and the mapping instruments from within their multiple display terminals, not only in the patrol cars but also in the fire truck as they’re approaching one of our schools,” said Bodie.
“I would tell you it’s not only crucial, but it’s also one of a kind,” Bodie suggested, explaining that was unsure if any other school districts have a similar arrangement.
For its part, the Dallas Independent School District said on August 2 that it hopes to ensure students are protected with its latest “Comprehensive Safety Plan.”
“While safety and security have always been a priority, we know that it is very important to our community right now more than ever, and so we wanted to provide an update to our entire community,” said Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde. “Safety and security are our No.1 goal.”
The Dallas ISD safety plan reportedly includes facility enhancements and protocols, mental well-being programs for students, training and safety awareness for all staff, resources for reporting potential issues, and outreach to parents to support school safety at home, according to the district.
As part of its safety measures, Dallas ISD is among the Texas school districts that have mandated that all middle and high school students wear a clear backpack in an effort to discourage weapons from being brought onto campuses.
However, safety advocates like former police officer Michael Dorn have argued that clear bag policies are ineffective, as students can still hide weapons among the other items in their backpacks or on their person. He recommended enforcing a dress code to make it more difficult for people to conceal weapons in clothing.
A four-year longitudinal study on the class of 2020 indicated that only 82.8% of Dallas ISD students graduated high school on time, compared to a statewide rate of 90.3%. Frisco ISD, however, clocked an impressive 96.8%.