Richland School District Two returns to school with new safety measures, parents react
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The largest school district in the Midlands returned to the classroom today with new safety measures.
Richland School District Two put its new safety plan into action for the first day of school. The biggest change is meeting high school students at the entrance. Safety screening stations were put to use at all Richland Two high schools and will remain there for the rest of the school year.
WIS spoke with Superintendent Dr. Kim Moore as she got a firsthand look at the new safety plan in action while touring schools throughout Richland Two.
“They have to feel like they are safe in the environment they’re in,” said Dr. Kim Moore.
The new Richland School District Two superintendent said that safety is her top priority going into the new school year.
“When [teachers and students] feel like they’re safe and they belong then learning can take place. When that’s not the case then students are concerned, and they’re not focused. They’re not giving their 100 percent to what teachers are trying to teach them,” said Dr. Moore.
Dr. Moore says she took that into consideration when helping put together the new safety plan. A plan that’s been in the works long before the summer break taking into consideration past instances within the district including a shooting hoax at Blythewood High School that sent teachers, students, and parents into a frenzy.
“And then we reassess. What can we do better this year and so we know there are some things that we can never control but we can put things in place to minimize as much as possible,” said Dr. Moore.
That includes safety screening stations at every high school and crisis alert badges for all teachers in the district. Those badges can alert law enforcement of an emergency and even put the entire school on lockdown. District officials also have plans to bring in more school resource officers. They’re looking to hire six more to have officers at every school.
“We’ve come to the conclusion that at the end of the day, have we done everything to keep students safe. When you answer that question, this is the logical next step,” said Richland School District Two Communications Director Greg Turchetta.
So far, parents seem to be supporting the safety plan saying it gives them peace of mind.
“That makes us as parents more comfortable going to work or staying at home,” said parent Seline Martinez.
The safety screening stations began as a pilot program last year and were proven to be successful. District board members approved funding to have them at every high school this year and officials hope they’ll deter students from even attempting to bring a weapon on school grounds.
“I do feel safer, my biggest fear was putting them into school and not being there. But now that I see these safety measures that’s going on, I’m actually happy that she’s going to school,” said Claudia McNeil, another parent.
Richland County Sheriff’s Department is providing school resources for each school this year.
Dr. Moore will continue her school tour this week and next week.
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