PRESTONSBURG — The atrocity committed in Newtown, Conn., has left many unanswered questions about gun rights and mental illness, but the safety and security of the nation’s schools as the country movies forward takes precedence in Floyd County.
In the wake of last week’s school shooting, during which a gunman killed 20 6- and 7-year-old children, six adults and himself, parents of school-aged children are justifiably worried going forward about the safety and security of schools. During a previously scheduled principals meeting at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, Floyd County Schools superintendent Henry Webb said security measures currently in place continue to make Floyd County schools safe and secure.
On Monday, Webb released a statement on the school district’s website offering prayers for those lost in Newtown, tips from psychological associations about how to discuss the tragedy with young children, and a short summary of the security measures already in place in Floyd County Schools.
When asked if schools in the area were safe, Webb gave a short, direct answer: “Yes, absolutely.”
According to Webb, during the meeting, principals and school officials were apprised to redouble their efforts in the diligent enforcement of current procedures and policies.
“We are reiterating that we have safety procedures in our district that we follow diligently, such as lockdown drills, such as every school in our district has intercom systems or buzzer systems, where folks come through the door, and we have open communication with our first responders.”
Webb said that it is important everyone be focused and on the same page. He says that the school system continues to look into whatever they can find to make schools safer, but that currently they are not planning to make any changes, either structurally or by adding guards. “There is no conversation about physically changing the environment. That is not something at this point that is being discussed.”
“One of the things you have to remember is that we have multiple facilities, with literally hundreds of doors. So, there’s no prison bars, there’s no metal doors, we’re not looking at razor wire fence. They’re not prisoners,” said Webb.
Webb said that there is no plans to install electronic locks that would immediately lock in the event of a lock-down situation.
“It’s our practice that every door, interior and exterior, during the school day is locked at all times. So, its no like if we go into lock-down, we lock our doors. They should already be locked.”
“We believe we have extremely safe schools. We have a staff that’s well trained about how to equip, and how to deal with these situations,” said Webb.
There are also no plans to add armed security to schools said Webb, “There is nothing that shows that prevents anything. It’s just not something we are considering at this time.”
Webb said parents should be patient and understanding with school officials moving forward, as even more emphasis is placed on school security.
“We are going to be even more diligent about asking: What’s your name? Why are you here? What is your purpose for being here?”
When asked if there was some lesson to be learned for school officials, Webb offered the following:
“I’ve followed it on the news like hundreds of thousands of people. Is there a lesson to be gained from somebody who does an evil act? I’m not sure. But here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to do everything in our power to keep our kids safe at all times, and that means that everybody, at all times, is cognizant of their surroundings, our learning environment. That we have strong relationships with our kids, and our community. To make sure that there are open lines of communication.”
“We’re going to do everything we can to keep our kids safe.”