FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — In the wake of the tragic shooting at a Texas elementary school Tuesday, WUSA9 reached out to numerous local school leaders to discuss safety measures in our region’s schools.
One thing was clear: Even on a difficult day, the work continues.
“I’m a parent myself, so we’re all hurting,” said Kate Hession the Executive Director of the Maryland Center for School Safety.
The center trains school staff and works with local, state and federal partners to develop security strategies for schools throughout Maryland.
“I think that's one thing that parents may not realize is happening in the school systems that there is, again, that whole community of individuals to include administrators and law enforcement that when a report of a concern comes to them,” explained Hession. “That they talk it through as a group, they work through that situation, and they make decisions about how to react.”
In fact, Hession said this school year alone the center received 700 reports on the state’s anonymous tip line: Safe schools Maryland or 1-833-MD-B-Safe.
“We get the doors propped open, things like that. But we do get concerns about individuals' self-harm to an individual,” she said.
In Virginia, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Brabrand canceled a county-wide principals’ meeting set for Thursday.
“I canceled it because our school leadership needs to be in schools today, tomorrow and frankly, in the days and weeks ahead, as we close out the school year, meeting with kids connecting with kids and with their families, to reassure them, that we have the most advanced safety systems available in Fairfax County Public Schools,” said Superintendent Brabrand.
He said that includes updated locks, annual crisis training, school resource officers and mental health assessments.
“We really had been training our counselors and our teachers in looking for the warning signals of kids who are starting to not pay as much attention in school, not come to school as often,” explained Brabrand.
“It takes the entire community to keep our schools and our students safe,” added Hession.
For many school leaders that means lawmakers.
“Our leaders have to come up with a solution to this issue of gun violence,” said Brabrand. “Maybe this is a place where we can come to a compromise in the name of our children.”
The CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools and the Chief of the Board of Education released a joint statement writing, “We urge policymakers to end the cycle of preventable school shootings with legislation that prioritizes the safety of those who teach, learn and work in schools."