Schools today are ever changing due to school safety and security measures. If you haven’t been to your local school lately, you may be surprised to see recent security upgrades that have been implemented. The days of just walking into a school with free access are no more. All schools within Tahlequah Public Schools have locked access with main entry door monitors with buzz-in access during all school hours. All visitors must identify themselves and are checked through the school computer records as to proper entry. Once inside, all visitors are tracked with sign-in badges which include the visitor’s time of entry and destination, and visitors must sign out when leaving the school. Fences with locked gates surround most sites while school is in session.
Within all our school sites, you will find locked classroom doors at all times during class time, which is now the norm along with School Resource Officers in attendance at each school. Our school resource officers (also known as SROs) are certified Tahlequah Police officers who also work all school events. To this point in time in the U.S., there has never been a school shooting at a school with a School Resource Officer present. We are very lucky to have such a fine and experienced crew of officers. Their safety expertise has really helped us to grow as a school district and to stay on the cutting edge with school safety. The officers also build positive relationships with our students as to keeping the line of communication open with students in order to stay up to date with what is happening within the school itself.
We have School Lockdown procedures as well as Intruder plans and procedures in place. The district has incorporated A.L.I.C.E. Training at all sites along with plans to deal with responding to a crisis, bomb threats, fire, tornado, bus safety, bully prevention procedures as well as many other procedures. The district’s emergency response procedures work hand in hand with our City and County Emergency Management office. We have school cameras in place at most school sites in order to monitor activity and plans are being made for camera installation at the remaining elementary sites currently without cameras. Our high school and alternative school camera systems were completely upgraded this summer.
During last school year, representatives from the Office of Homeland Security toured our school sites for an entire week. They presented us with a report on additional things we could do to make our sites safer. Homeland Security representatives praised our district on what we had already been doing to be proactive and gave us additional ideas to improve safety at all school sites. We are attempting to put additional safety ideas into practice right now and feel that our schools should be safe havens for teaching and learning where both students and staff will be free from violence and crime.