The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

August 31, 2013

Dealing with school safety

ENID, Okla. — It might not be obvious when visiting an Enid school things are different, but four new safety and security regulations went into place before the doors were flung open this school year.

Measures to increase safety in schools were passed by the Legislature after the Oklahoma Commission on School Safety, created in the wake of the December killing of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., made recommendations.

One bill requires schools to run an intruder drill each semester. Schools already do fire drills, tornado drills and lockdown drills. Intruder drills must be done within the first 15 days of each semester, but the other drills are scheduled as each school chooses to schedule them.

Amber Fitzgerald, human resources and communications director for Enid Public Schools, said adding intruder drills is probably the biggest change for EPS among the new laws.

Another bill requires schools to collaborate with local emergency responders, sharing their emergency plans.

That requirement is not really a change, Fitzgerald said. Enid schools already worked with local emergency personnel.

Any firearms found at schools must be reported to police under another new law aimed at school security.

Also new is the Oklahoma School Security Institute within the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security.

Kim Carter, director of Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security, said the OSSI was launched July 1.

“The goal is to create a training and information clearinghouse,” Carter said.

Homeland security wants to provide school districts with baseline training for security needs, and help them create plans for security emergencies.

“Once they make those plans, we want to work with them to prepare to implement those plans,” Carter said.

Carter said his department eventually will have a catalog of security training courses that school districts can choose from.

“Also, as we travel the state, we listen to best practices,” Carter said.

Homeland Security also works with law enforcement agencies to improve their rapid-response training, which is utilized when an emergency scenario such as an armed intruder in the school arises.

The office will create a tip line that people can call to report dangerous or suspicious activities in the schools, Carter said.

“All these services to schools will be free to them,” Carter said. “It’s a state funded program.”

Shawn Hime, superintendent of Enid Public Schools, said each school’s safe school committee monitors the security of each building.

“They know what’s best for their school site,” Hime said.

One of the projects of district-wide school renovation is that each and every door, both interior and exterior, has a new lock mechanism.

Tornado safety also is a concern in Oklahoma, after students at Moore had to be pulled from under the rubble of their schools.

Each Enid school has a designated area where students go in the event of a tornado warning. Each building’s tornado procedure is unique, Fitzgerald said.

“Every school develops tornado procedures as part of their Safe School Plan, which includes input from teachers, parents and administrators,” Fitzgerald said. “The locations are consistent with the advice of emergency and weather officials: The lowest, safest, most protected areas of the building.”

The locations where students shelter during a tornado warning, by school, are:

• Adams Elementary School — bottom floor hallway.

• Coolidge Elementary School — central hallway, restrooms, library office, storage rooms, music room and counselor’s office.

• Eisenhower Elementary School — south hallway.

• Garfield Elementary School — east hallway, west hallway and music room.

• Glenwood Elementary School — main hallways, restrooms, teacher workroom and library workroom.

• Hayes Elementary School — main hallway.

• Hoover Elementary School — PE equipment room, offices, restrooms and teacher workroom.

• McKinley Elementary School — hallway of new addition.

• Monroe Elementary School — music room, east hallways, restrooms and secretary’s office.

• Prairie View Elementary School —office workroom, computer lab, storage rooms, workroom and restrooms.

• Taft Elementary School — restrooms, counselor’s office, library storage room, basement, south hallway and gymnasium office.

• Emerson Middle School — downstairs gym.

• Longfellow Middle School — bottom floor hallway of the old Garfield Elementary School and bottom floor hallway of main building.

• Waller Middle School — restrooms, basement, workroom, storage rooms, locker rooms, technology education room, library office and east area hallway.

• Enid High School — first floor, second floor and east wing hallways.

• Lincoln — restrooms and basement.

• Carver — basement.

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