In the wake of recent school shootings across the country, Stokes County Superintendent Dr. Brad Rice shared how the school district is working with local law enforcement to keep children safe.
“School safety is always the top priority for boards of education and superintendents around the state and nation. It’s no different in Stokes County. Events like Sandy Hook, Columbine, and Parkland are tragic reminders of the importance of our decisions. There is also a balance that must be maintained as we offer a welcoming and inviting climate to educate children.”
Rice said in the aftermath of recent tragedies, Stokes County Schools began the process of reevaluating their safety plans, beginning with training programs.
“North Carolina requires schools to participate in one fire drill per month, lockdown training with staff each fall, and one tornado drill each spring. The state recommends having one lockdown drill each year. Stokes County Schools complied with the requirements and recommendations and went above the state guidelines and participated in two lockdown drills a year.”
The district is now participating in quarterly lockdown drills and have added blocked access fire drills, and increased teacher lockdown trainings to twice a year. Assistant Superintendent, Tony George, recently began an initiative to review and revise the district and school-level crisis plans through a partnership with school administrators, the sheriff’s department, fire department, and emergency medical services (EMS).
The board of education is also examining school facilities with a critical eye for safety.
Rice said parents will notice a few differences in the coming weeks and months, as the schools upgrade door security. Parents and guardians will also be asked to present identification when signing a student out of school during the school day.
On March 19, the school board voted to change the vendor that completes criminal record searches for volunteers to a different company that has a more rigorous practice and provides real-time data.
Rice said Stokes County continues to utilize school resource officers (SRO) within the district.
“Several years ago, the county commissioners and the board of education added more officers to serve each campus on a regular basis. Sheriff Marshall is looking at other funding sources in the hopes of having a full-time SRO on each campus, each day. The King City Council has also shown an interest in assisting with school safety in their jurisdiction.”
In the past few weeks, Rice said Sheriff Marshall and King Chief of Police Paula May have been a tremendous asset and stayed in constant contact.
“They’ve discussed ways to keep our students safe every day and especially when there is a known threat,” he said. “I could not be happier with the responsiveness of the local law enforcement leaders in the county. I have communicated with both Chief May and Sheriff Marshall at all hours of the day. Our community should be proud of the lengths these two have gone to make sure our most precious resources, our children, are safe.”
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.