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May 18, 2024

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Breathe Easy: Local Schools Put Safety First

With shootings fresh on our minds, Middle Tennessee schools share their safety measures.

What will happen to me if a shooting takes place at my school? It's the unpleasant thought plenty of kids have in their heads today. Will I be safe? What about my friends? What about my teachers? Where will I go and what about my parents? How will they be able to find me? Will they be able to find me? Unfortunately, the questions have all bubbled up to the surface again. Eighteen school shootings have taken place in the past year, and we'd be remiss if we didn't think it could happen again.

The Kids Are Safe

It certainly doesn't help us to be fearful and it doesn't help our children if we are, either. First, know that your kids are as safe as they can possibly be when they are at school. As safe as they will be anywhere. Second, know that our area schools have important plans in place to make sure that your kids, teachers and everyone in schools will continue to be safe. Nashville Parent reached out to area schools to learn about the security measures they have in place. Here's what we learned:

METRO NASHVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS from Public Information Officer Michelle Michaud

"MNPS considers the safety of our students our first priority. Our security team is vigilant in its communication with schools, administration and MNPD. Each school has its exterior doors locked at all times. To enter the school, visitors must enter through a security buzzer equipped with a camera in to the front office during school hours. For future reference: Lockout: Is when there is a threat in the area that is not school specific but could affect the school in which no one is allowed to transition in or out of the building.  In these situations, the Metro Nashville Police Department in partnership with MNPS’s School Security Department, maintain ongoing communication regarding the nature of the incident. Lockdown: This is when there is a threat of any nature that requires that all classrooms and exterior doors remain locked and no student movement as the school implements its crisis response plan. Shelter in place: This is a weather-related response in which students are kept inside the school in safe areas of the building when there is a risk of inclement weather.  Student will remain in their shelter in place locations until the danger has passed. 

RUTHERFORD COUNTY SCHOOLS from Communications Coordinator James Evans

"We have a comprehensive set of security plans in place for a number of scenerios, including active shooters and intruders at our schools. For obvious reasons, we do not disclose those plans publicly because they could be exploited in the wrong hands. We also have a communication plan in place for communicating with parents and other stakeholders (such as the media), when we have an emergency on one of our campuses. We regularly use and practice these plans throughout the school year, and we make adjustments as needed." UPDATE as of 2/16/18: Fear was spread throughout Rutherford County Schools today. It's all FAKE news some kids spread in hopes to get out of school today. James Evans from Rutherford County Schools urges parents to talk with their children about spreading fake news or false threats to evoke fear. Law enforcement has been investigating all the threats and has learned they are rumors being spread nationally.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY SCHOOLS from Communications Director Carol Birdsong

Williamson County's Safety and Security Department was established in 2013 following an assessment of schools by Safe Havens International, Inc. Safe Haven is the world's leading international non-profit campus safety center. The Safety and Security Department works with Williamson schools to improve safety. The department develops, establishes and enforces safety and security policies. All 41 WCS schools has a School Resource Officer (SRO) in place. Williamson County Schols issued a message to parents on Thursday, Feb. 15 as follows: "School safety is of the utmost importance in Williamson County Schools. According to news reports, there have been 18 school shootings across our country in the last six weeks. While we have comprehensive safety plans in place, Dr. Looney has mandated that all plans be revisited, reviewed and reinforced immediately with all WCS personnel and law enforcement. All WCS faculty and staff as well as the SROs serving our buildings will participate in this review." Williamson County has cancelled school for students on Monday, February 19 so that the review can proceed.

WILSON COUNTY SCHOOLS from Communications, Jennifer Johnson

"Our schools are required to conduct a lock down drill with students at least twice per school year. This is the drill that would be enacted in the event of an active shooter situation. Most of our schools actually do more than two, and they're required to document this annually for our Safety Director, Steve Spencer.     "A massive drill was held at Watertown Middle School last summer that involved all surrounding law enforcement agencies. Three scenarios were included; one with an active shooter situation and  one with hostage event on a school bus. The SWAT teams went in. Students posed as victims. It was about as realistic as you can get, for something that was simply a drill.     "Our schools have a social media monitoring service called "Social Sentinel" that sends us alerts, anytime a student posts a threat in Wilson County. We see everything a student posts on an open site. The filter is so sensitive that they almost never amount to anything. All of our SRO's receive these updates and take action when appropriate."  

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