If you’re a parent with one or more students in the Tooele County School District and are worried about their safety, a meeting held last week at the school district’s office may have offered some relief.
On the evening of Feb. 26, school district officials held a public informational meeting in the school board’s chambers to outline the district’s mental health programs, safety protocols and building security efforts in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.
School district officials were joined by local law enforcement leaders from Tooele County, Tooele and Grantsville cities, along with officials from Tooele County Emergency Management. The assembly of officials, and the nearly filled school board chambers with parents and teachers, underscored the seriousness of what’s at stake: keeping our students, teachers and staff safe from a person with a gun and evil intent.
What’s being done to prevent that from happening was reported in detail in a front-page story in last Tuesday’s edition. School district superintendent Scott Rogers told the audience that school safety is about more than shootings. “It is a complex issue,” he said. “There isn’t a magic pill or a single answer.”
Yet, it’s clear the school district, local police and emergency management haven’t shirked from finding solutions to keep a gunman or gunmen from walking into a local school and senselessly taking lives. And just as important, officials are focused on finding solutions to help prevent a disturbed student from taking a turn for the worse.
For nearly two hours, Rogers and other officials explained in detail what has been done, and what may be implemented in the future, to help make local schools safer. For example, the district has security protocols in the event of a threat inside or outside a school. Drills on those protocols are held monthly.
Also, the school district has strategies in place for building security, such as school resource officers at local high schools and security cameras, and is looking at new technology to push that security to higher levels. Sterling and Old Mill Elementary schools, both of which are new, have single-point access where visitors are given access to interior hallways from the office. As for the district’s older schools, they may be retrofitted with similar technology.
But the school district isn’t just looking at technology to boost safety and security. There also is an emphasis on mental health services and related programs to serve students who are at risk or are struggling in school and at home. The school district has a federal $5 million school climate grant that is being used to pay for professional mental health services, counselors, behavioral tracking software, and safe school coordinators.
Those are only some of the programs that were explained during the meeting. The school district, emergency management and local police are acknowledged for making the effort to directly inform about school safety.
Rogers is right. There isn’t a magic pill or a single answer to preventing another school shooting. But it’s good to know proactive work is being done right here to make a difference.