As parents help their children head back to school, administrators want them to feel like they can trust them to keep students safe.
That’s why administrators in the school districts your children attend say security is their number one focus.
Anderson School District 5 was very willing to let 7 News see their security preparations at work.
School administrators at T.L. Hanna didn’t share anything that would put your children at risk but they did show us how the first few days for teachers are crucial in practicing for any threat and implementing a lockdown.
T.L.hanna High School sits right off of busy Highway 81 in Anderson county, which is just one of the factors that make up the school safety plan.
That’s something teachers studied leading up to the first day of classes.
Principal Shawn Tobin said it’s required learning for teachers to prepare for any security risk
Tobin said teachers practice safety preparedness with safety drills throughout the year. They make changes after each drill when they find gaps in their response.
One change administrators told us they made was giving substitute teachers a full briefing on the safety plan as well.
School resource officer Jamie Hill said he is able to secure the building by calling for a lockdown after anything from a bank robbery down the road to a custody battle in the parking lot.
Tobin said the call goes out on their secure radios, they lock and barricade all doors and no one gets in or out of the building.
Then someone calls 911 and teachers cover windows and move away from them.
The process changes if there’s an intruder.
“If there is a serious situation and someone is in the building, we’re not in charge, law enforcement takes over the building,” Tobin said.
Tobin sends an automated call to parents and he can send a message through news media or on the school website as well.
Tobin said students are allowed to have their cell phones to call home too.
“I remind parents first and foremost our job as principal is to provide safety for your child and second academics. You may have the best school but if you don’t have a safe school, no one will want to go to it, Tobin said.
Most importantly he said parents shouldn’t come to the school during a lockdown but should wait for instructions on where to meet their children.
If they come to the school, Tobin and Hill agreed they might be in the way of emergency responders or be mistaken for an intruder.
School resource officers also make it a point to spend time with students in the halls or at lunch so they trust them and will share any issues before they interrupt the school environment.
Administrators say social media can be one of the biggest challenges they face.