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Security On The Minds of School Officials As Schools Reopen In South Carolina

Dutchman Creek Middle School, Rock Hill S.C.
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Dutchman Creek Middle School, Rock Hill S.C.

Safety is on the minds of school officials in South Carolina as students return to school this week, considering the deadly incidents that occurred at several schools last year.

In Rock Hill, Kevin Wren, the district’s security director, says for the first time, teachers and all other staff received formal training in how to respond to a violent incident. Wren says all 18,000 of the district’ students and staff also participated in a role-playing exercise on Monday that focused on ways to reunite students with their parents following a violent or emergency incident. And it included a message from Michelle Gay, of Safe and Sound Schools. Her daughter was killed at Sandy Hook.

Credit Rock Hill Schools
Kevin Wren, Rock Hill Schools security director

“She spoke to everyone to tie everything together on the why do we keep our doors locked, why are we training today and why we are doing what we are doing,” Wren said.

Wren says a few additional security cameras have been added at schools and some classroom door locks are now electronically controlled. Those doors will stay locked at all times and teachers will use badges to open them.

"If something was to happen and they needed instant access to a classroom previously they’d have to run back to their room and try to use their motor skills to use that key to open up that door. Now with electronics, we give them access to any room in the building,” Wren said. “We can also track through the badges and electronic locks who went in these classrooms and when.”

Wren says they hope to expand electronic door locks districtwide as funds become available.