School Safety in HCS

The issue of school safety has been in the news cycle frequently.  The tragedy in Uvalde, Texas was the most recent tragedy in what has become a long line of dangerous situations in schools across the country.  Each time an unnecessary tragedy occurs in this context, the topic of school safety inevitably comes up.

Every student and teacher deserves the safest environment in which to learn and teach; parents deserve to feel at ease when they drop their student at school or put them on the bus.  In Haywood County Schools, we are taking every necessary precaution to make sure our buildings are safe and secure.

Even though the topic of school safety is most often discussed after a tragedy has occurred, the most important work of school safety begins with providing opportunities for students to learn about their feelings while practicing conflict resolution techniques as well as providing them as much support as possible when it comes to social-emotional learning.

In early grades in HCS, students take part in The Leader in Me Program which is woven into the fabric of each school.  In TLIM, students take ownership of certain aspects of their school as well as learn healthy habits of successful people. Students who participate in TLIM are also able to positively affect the culture of their school.  This allows students to build confidence in themselves as they progress through the school system.  

Each school in HCS also has a school social worker along with a school counselor.  At Haywood High School, the Project AWARE grant also provides two additional school social workers in order to help supplement the work of the school social worker and counselors.  From early elementary school through graduation, students in HCS are socially and emotionally supported while in school

Even with various social supports in place for students, building security and the physical safety for students remain paramount in HCS.  Each individual campus in the district has video cameras at every main access point and every main entrance is locked and only accessible by being unlocked by the school’s office.  Listed below are the safety measures in place for each school in HCS:

Building Security:

  • School Resource Officer on every campus
  • Doors are locked – every outside door should  be locked at all times.
  • Doors are never propped open
  • Cameras at doors at every entry way
  • Every classroom door should be locked inside the building even if the doors aren’t shut while instruction is taking place
  • Building can only be accessed by office personnel unlocking the door 
  • Students are signed out through the Raptor Visitor Management and must have photo ID to check out students

One of the most integral parts to building safety in HCS is the placement of an SRO on each campus.  SRO’s are members of the Brownsville Police Department and have graduated from the Tennessee Law Enforcement Academy.  They are trained to handle crisis situations within a school, but they are also trained in the important relationship building aspects required of adults who work in a school setting.

SRO’s provide physical protection for staff and students in each school, but they also can be another trusted adult in the life of students.  SRO’s also help with the annual intruder drills that take place on each campus.  

Much like tornado drills, fire drills, and earthquake drills, intruder drills help schools prepare for a worst-case scenario.  During an intruder drill, students and staff practice their lockdown procedures which include making sure every door is locked, that students are not visible in the classroom, and door windows are covered.  Intruder drills are required to be practiced once a year, but principals have the discretion to practice them as much as needed.

While we hope that no school in HCS ever has to use what they’ve learned during intruder drills or an SRO in HCS has to implement their training to stop an intruder, we know that making sure those safeguards are in place across the district is a priority.  We value our students, teachers, and families and want to provide them the safest learning environment possible.