Authorities have increased presence since the massacre
Local school officials and law enforcement authorities are teaming up to evaluate safety plans and security measures.
Next week, Del Norte Superintendent Don Olson and Crescent City Police Chief Doug Plack will audit the five schools that fall within the Police Department’s jurisdiction. Olson is also expecting to join with Sheriff Dean Wilson to audit county school facilities soon.
“We’re looking at everything we can do through evaluation of each site as it pertains to structural and environmental safety,” said Olson.
The audits will evaluate such safety considerations as points of entry, especially at Del Norte High School, which has 20 access points. Any safety issues will then be brought before the School Board, Olson said.
The Police Department has already increased patrols around and in the city schools, Plack said.
“Officers are required to walk hallways several times a day while school is in session,” said Plack. “The presence of law enforcement in the school setting is paramount.”
He said he considers a strong sense of security for students to be one of the foundations of an effective educational setting.
Students also have responded positively, said Plack, who has received high-fives, greetings and gratitude shown from youths during his walkthroughs.
“It’s so rewarding, not only for the kids, but for the officers also,” said Plack.
The heightened presence of officers around local schools was sparked by the shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., which left 20 children and six women dead last December, Plack said.
Since the shootings, Olson and authorities have heard concerns about local schools from parents and other citizens.
A main concern was for Bess Maxwell and Redwood school, which have open layouts. Parents requested the doors in each classroom have their locks changed so teachers can secure them from the inside, Olson said.
He said the district is working on attaining a grant that would match funds for the $24,000 project.
Sheriff Wilson said that he also received calls from concerned citizens and has since increased patrols around schools located in the unincorporated portion of the county.
Before the Newtown shooting, a meeting was scheduled for all principals to meet with a school safety trainer to review plans, which is an annual requirement of all state schools, Olson said.
In addition, he has directed school officials to reach out to parents regarding each school’s safety procedures.
A meeting for Pine Grove Elementary School is scheduled Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in room 3.
“What I really stressed to principals is to update your safety plan, notify your educational community that you are reviewing your plan and actually publish it for them,” said Olson. “The school district is taking a position of being as proactive as possible.”
Olson said he would also like to implement a drill at schools each year, practicing a lockdown or evacuation.
In March, every school administrator and designated safety employee will take part in what is known as “active shooter” training.