Due to the recent events of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, many around the county may be wondering what the response of Tyler County Schools have been regarding security in the schools.
Superintendent Robin Daquilante said that in response to the tragedy, she, along with Child Nutrition and Safety Director Amanda Kimble and School Resource Officer Deputy Joey Richardson, have used this time to meet with all staff and faculty to review existing security procedures.
The main point discussed in these meetings are reminding those allowing entry to a building to ask the identity of any visitors, the purpose of their visit and making sure they are signed in and obtain a visitor's pass. Knowing who is in the building at all times will help staff and faculty to account for everyone in the case of an emergency or crisis.
These intercoms located in the entrance of all Tyler County Schools allow secretaries to monitor who is trying to gain entry into the schools.
Currently, Tyler County and counties around the state receive funding for security through a grant called School Access Safety. The grant is funded in part by the West Virginia School Building Authority and West Virginia Department of Education.
Tyler County Schools have used this funding to install many security precautions around the school. Kimble said one of the most valuable installations are cameras.
"We needed the cameras to monitor the doorways and hallways; we were able to put those in the elementary schools as well. They weren't installed because we have students misbehave, but because we want to have those extra set of eyes if something happens," said Kimble.
Upon entrance to any Tyler County School, a visitor must press a button located on an intercom to signal the secretary. When this button is pressed, the secretary immediately can see the visitor via a camera that is installed in the intercom. This way the secretary can see a visitor before granting them access into the school.
Other installations include mantrap doors and bollards. Bollards are located in front of the school and will prevent anyone from driving through the school to gain entry or cause an explosion. The schools also set up periodic mock drills to prepare students, staff and faculty for a crisis situation if one were ever to occur.
Additionally, each school has their own School Safety and Security Committee. Daquilante, along with Kimble, attend the monthly Local Emergency and Planning Committee. The security of the schools is a countywide initiative, not just the concern of the Tyler County Board of Education.
The West Virginia Department of Education is currently working on a revision of the School Crisis Response Plan that was started before the Newtown tragedy. It will begin during the 2013-2014 school year. This plan is currently not in use but was enacted during the 2011 Legislative Session. Basically, this was enacted to ensure that all West Virginia schools implement a crisis response plan template that will be maintained in a database called the Automated Critical Asset Management System (ACAMS). This is a national, secure, web-based, database that will require no extra cost to use.
Basically, this new plan will create a unified system with language specific codes. The plan requires 100 percent collaboration from the West Virginia Legislature, the Governor's Office, the West Virginia School Building Authority, West Virginia Department of Military Affairs, local public safety agencies, county superintendents, boards of education and principals.
Although there is no security that is foolproof, Tyler County Schools are following all of the precautions that were set in place by West Virginia Department of Education to ensure that their schools and children are safe and secure.