City schools review safety measures

120 additional cameras will be installed
Feb. 11, 2013 @ 08:51 PM

December’s horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary forced schools systems across the nation to review safety procedures to ensure everything possible was being done to keep students safe.
Thomasville City Schools was no different.
At Tuesday’s monthly Board of Education meeting, Georgia Marshall, TCS’ chief administrative officer, provided an update on what measures the school system is taking to protect its children, teachers and campuses. From identifying camera blind spots to practicing outside intruder drills, principals and administrators are reviewing every possible safety scenario.
“There are great efforts being put forth to keep not only students but staff members safe,” Marshall told the board. “[TCS Superintendent Keith Tobin] and I met with principals and talked with them about what aspects of safety they were working on, especially since the Sandy Hook incident. I think we’re moving forward in making our schools as safe as possible.”
Installing more than 120 cameras across all four city schools is one measure administrators feel with help identify people coming onto campus. In preparation of the move, blind spots were found at Thomasville Middle School and Thomasville Primary that prevented office staff from seeing incoming visitors. Marshall said schools are emphasizing staff members to monitor doors closely and make sure all visitors go directly to the front office and register. Anyone found inside the building without a visitor badge will be asked to report to the office immediately.
“One of our major concerns has been safety more than ever,” said Marshall. “Because of all the things that have gone on in our country regarding schools and safety, one thing I can say about TCS is we’ve always addressed safety. What happens when things come up in the country is it makes us aware of things we need to look at.”
Thomasville High School currently has a team working on a safety plan for a campus made up of several buildings spread over a large area. Due to the size of the campus, Marshall said an intricate plan is being developed in the event an incident should occur. TPS, with help from Thomasville Police Department, has conducted lockdown simulations for a hostile intruder, and teachers are equipped with emergency plans.
“One thing we have to make sure is that these plans are put in place and we make it happen,” Tobin said. “I continually pray that we don’t ever have an incident in our school system. What we have to do as a school system is make sure we’re proactive. I feel good about what our folks are doing.”
Marshall also stressed TCS’ emphasis on character education and classroom guidance when it comes to bullying and harassment.
“All of the schools have safety plans in strict details,” said Marshall. “Those that need tweaking are being looked at and things are being put in place to make the schools even more safe.”
All four city schools have a first responder team consisting of a school nurse, counselor, administrator and teachers. Marshall said she expects the camera installation to be completed systemwide by the end of the semester. TCS now has 125 cameras already installed.

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.