ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Students attending public schools in Alexandria, Virginia, will see additional safety measures when they return this fall.
Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) released a list of safety and security protocols on Tuesday for the upcoming school year to students, parents, and staff. The safety measures are intended to address student well-being, safety, and security in order to ensure the students "feel welcomed, supported, safe in all of our school buildings."
A few changes that will occur during the upcoming school year are listed as follows:
- All students and staff are required to have and carry their identification daily
- Additional school security officers will be at secondary school locations
- Designated entrances for students, staff, and visitor entry
- Cell service expanded throughout the Alexandria City High School (ACHS) King Street Campus
School safety has been a point of emphasis in Alexandria City Public Schools following the death of a student.
In May, Alexandria City High School released new security protocols for the remainder of 2021-2022 after one of its seniors, 18-year-old Luis Mejia Hernandez, was stabbed to death during a large fight at the Bradlee Shopping Center, three blocks away from the school.
Last week, a group of ACPS parents created a school survey that included recommendations to keep the school system safe.
“It all got started because I started seeing in the school system that our children were afraid to go to school,” Rene Islas, an ACPS parent of four said. "The fact that they were concerned told us there must be something there that we need to do dig into."
Eighty-three percent of the survey's 179 respondents said community members were worried about school safety, and parents suggested increasing transparency from ACPS, implementing an early warning system for at-risk students, and maintaining school resource officers.
As for the ACPS measures, "I think they did a good job of accelerating the process," Islas said. "But when they attempted to put some strategies in place, I think they were off the mark."
"We're asking the school to think not only about the aggressor's needs, which there definitely are specific needs but also about the victim's needs which often get left out," he said.
ACPS reminded students and parents that all ACPS campuses are "Closed Campus," meaning students would be prohibited from entering and leaving without permission, including at lunchtime.
The school system said as the school year continues, additional measures will be carried out if needed and communicated to families, staff, and the community.