Signal schools increasing security

Signal Mountain schools are re-examining safety policies as students return to class in the wake of Connecticut’s tragic school shooting in which 20 students and six teachers lost their lives.

“After an incident that occurred in the Northeast, it makes people reassess and confirm the procedures that are already in place,” said Nolan Elementary principal Shane Harwood, adding that a few changes will be made but the school has no plans to do a complete overhaul of its current safety policies and will not share adjustments with the public for safety reasons. “We do everything we can to keep their children safe as they are learning, and we’ve had nothing but support from parents and community members in following our procedures.”

The Signal Mountain Police Department as well as the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office have plans in place to maintain visibility in the school and help ensure a safe environment for the students and staff, said Harwood.

“We live in a community very similar to Sandy Hook,” said Thrasher Elementary principal Aimee Randolph. “After the event in Connecticut I met with my leadership team to begin thinking about reviewing our safety practices and procedures.”

Randolph formed a safety committee composed of herself, teachers, local law enforcement officers and a parent representative.

“We’re working right now to make sure we have a very effective plan,” she said. “Lots of teachers and parents went to school here, and we didn’t want to change what a positive, kid-friendly environment we have, but we are raising our awareness of some steps we need to be taking to be sure everyone would know exactly what to do.”

One change the school has already enacted is restricting entry to classrooms, including requiring visitors to check in at the front office before entering the classroom areas.

“We have a lot of parental support, and they’re not bothered by having to sign in and out,” said Randolph.

The safety committee is in the process of developing a plan outlining specific steps teachers would need to take when faced with an intruder.

“We have to be ready with a very definitive plan in place that each and every teacher and staff member will understand,” Randolph said.

For security reasons, Signal Mountain Middle/High School principal Robin Copp said the school is now locking all doors to the building aside from the main entrance when the last tardy bell rings at 7:25 a.m., and then again after dismissal at 2:45 p.m. At that point all students not supervised by a teacher or coach are asked to leave the building, she said.


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