Area school districts review safety measures after Uvalde school shootings

Ronald E. Carrington | 6/9/2022, 6 p.m.
The May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, has prompted local school systems to review their ...

The May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, has prompted local school systems to review their safety measures.

The Uvalde shooting resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two teachers. Ten days before the shooting, 10 people were killed at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.

Several killing sprees throughout the country have since occurred.

During its Monday night meeting, the Richmond School Board discussed safety policies, protocols and mental health services, noting they will be reviewed to identify areas that need improvement. Recommendations will be made before the 2022 school calendar year begins.

“Afew months ago, I directed our head of security and safety to review and update (safety procedures) for every RPS school,” Superintendent Jason Kamras told the Free Press. “They walked the buildings and clarified plans and (conducted) training with each building’s staff.”

In addition to conducting emergency drills in RPS schools, threat assessment teams are in place at each school, Mr. Kamras said.

“To our students, families, and staff: please know that I take your safety extremely seriously – it is truly my number one priority, as both superintendent and a father,” Mr. Kamras said in published remarks following the Uvalde shooting. He also said that the division’s director of security was asked to update their school-specific active shooter response plans.

As a rule, Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield Public Schools do not disclose sensitive security details and measures to avoid them being compromised and ineffective in protecting students, faculty and school facilities.

However, each district has available for parents and students general information regarding the responsibilities of school safety officers.

Similar measures are in effect in other local school systems.

“In Henrico County Public Schools, each site has specific safety plans and procedures for school and office,” said Eileen M. Cox, a Henrico schools spokeswoman. “Our staff receives annual emergency training as well as participate in emergency drills with stu- dents.”

On Monday, Henrico County and HCPS, along with public health and law enforcement officials launched two town hall meetings, “Together We’ll Heal: A Community Conversation for Peace,” a dialogue focused on hope, healing and a call to action in response to gun violence.

Chesterfield County Schools responded to a Free Press request for information on school security with an email distributed to county parents.

“The district has a threat assessment team trained through evidence-based practices to evaluate potential disturbances and respond appropriately,” read the email from Shawn M. Smith, the school system’s chief communications officer.

According to the email, each school has a team trained to respond to issues affecting students and staff members in connection with the critical incident and emergency response management plan.

CCPS also stated it supports students through school counseling and other easy-to-access school services such as conflict resolution and team building.