Hampton Roads schools ramp up safety measures in wake of school shooting in Texas

school safety
Posted at 6:39 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 19:44:48-04

NORFOLK, Va. – Several area schools are taking action after the latest mass shooting in Texas left parents and students with so many emotions and questions about safety.

Schools regularly practice active shooter drills, along with lockdown and evacuation drills, in case of an attack. The run-throughs are done to keep everyone safe.

The measures have been in the forefront of minds in the wake of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas Tuesday.

Helen Pryor is the president of the Education Association of Norfolk. She’s also an elementary teacher at Chesterfield Academy in the Norfolk school district.

“This is not a situation anyone should ever be in, and it should never be considered a norm,” Pryor said.

Pryor said each school has safety protocols, including keeping outside doors locked and following thorough plans for checking visitors into the building.

“We have to bring our A-game to the table every day when we go to work as teachers and staff members, because we are responsible for everybody else's children,” Pryor said.

Norfolk Public Schools and many other schools have threat assessment teams that help protect students and stop potential threats, but Pryor admits school districts could always improve security measures.

“We need even more training and knowledge about these situations,” she said. “We need better procedures.”

Pryor said schools could always use more cameras and security officers.

Hamptons City Schools said it uses canines to do random firearm searches.

The massacre in Texas is prompting Chesapeake and Portsmouth schools to bring in extra police officers for the rest of the school year.

The Portsmouth Public Schools sent a letter to families to put them and their children at ease.

Over at Virginia Beach Central Public Schools, administrators are moving forward with a plan to hire several School Security Officers (SSOs) armed with guns, as they continue to quickly lose School Resource Officers (SROs) that need to be reassigned to the police department.

“We know response time is critical during a crisis and every second counts,” said Tom DeMartini, the director of Safe Schools at VBCPS. “Fortunately, the VBCPS employs numerous former law enforcement officers as security personnel.”

These safety measures are leaving many parents with hope.

“The expectation is that when your child goes to school, they're coming back in the afternoon,” Pryor saod.

VBCPS expects to have SSOs in high schools as early as this Tuesday.