Area school systems explain safety measures

EFFINGHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - After Wednesday's Florida school shooting, the Effingham County School System and the Savannah-Chatham Public School System say they're prepared just in case an emergency happens in their districts.

"I'm in shock this happens in schools. This should be one of the safest places our children go to," South Effingham High School Principal Dr. Mark Winters said.

The high school was one of many schools to lower their flags to half-staff in honor of the shooting victims.

The Effingham Co. School Board says safety is a top priority.

"It can happen anywhere, anytime, anyplace. As far as Effingham County Board of Education is concerned, we are going to do everything we can to prevent such things happening here," Effingham County Board of Education Vice Chairman Troy Alford said.

Alford says school officials are working to make sure schools are ready for any emergency.

"Whether it's one shooting or there are 17-18 dead like there was in Florida yesterday, it's just a terrible thing to happen and we're going to do all we can," Alford said.

Alford says security vestibules are already installed in Effingham's elementary schools. The safety measure only allows for one main access into the building. Visitors must see a receptionist before they can gain access into the school.

School board members say they would like to install the vestibules in the middle and high schools as well.

The school system also participates in various drills, including an intruder drill. Dr. Winters says his high school recently did an intruder drill.

"We tightened up some of our protocol for what we would do during an actual event," Dr. Winters said.

The school system also initiated a uniform policy several years ago which also helps with security.

In Chatham County, Savannah-Chatham Campus Police Chief Terry Enoch says all of the schools in the district are prepared for any emergency.

"I think we are prepared as we possibly can be. Now, no one is 100 percent prepared from a person who wants to randomly shoot someone. You could be at the park, or movies and not be prepared for that, but here's what we do know. We have taken every precaution to keep our schools safe," Chief Enoch said.

Screenings already take place at all of the Savannah-Chatham schools. Visitors must show I.D. and state the reason for being at the school.

In addition to the screenings, all Savannah-Chatham schools are equipped with metal detectors which are used periodically throughout the year.

When it comes to the case of an active shooter, Chief Enoch says all school resource officers and staff members know what to do.

The school system even has an emergency management coordinator who visits the schools to complete security assessments.

The school system also participates in several emergency drills throughout the year, from tornado drills to active shooter drills.

The school system encourages those who hear or see something suspicious in the schools to call CrimeStoppers at 912.234.2020.

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