Area school districts stay vigilant when it comes to security

Safety in Schools
Safety in Schools(Valley News Live)
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 1:08 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - As people in the community of Uvalde, Texas lay mass shooting victims to rest, discussions about school security have become top priority across the country. Valley News Live checked with some local school districts to find out what safety procedures are in place and how often they are reviewed.

Crisis management in the Fargo, West Fargo, Moorhead and Grand Forks Public School Districts are similar. All have emergency operations plans, which are reviewed annually and practiced regularly.

“School personnel always review emergency situations that occur in our nation to learn where safety procedures could be strengthened close to home,” said AnnMarie Campbell with Fargo Public Schools.

Campbell says emergency procedures are routinely practiced in all 23 school buildings and in the district as a whole. She also says the district will make physical changes to school buildings and changes to procedures when necessary to create a safer school environment; that includes things like securing entrances or reviewing the visitor management system.

In Fargo, summer is when policies and procedures are reviewed annually and they may institute new protocols.

Nearby in West Fargo, they say it doesn’t take an incident or event a threat for school staff to begin conversations about school safety.

“School safety is a topic that we talk about more often than people realize…and more often than we would perhaps like,” Director of Health, Safety and Public Relations Heather Leas said. “But situations like what occurred in Uvalde, TX, remind us of the importance of those conversations. They also remind us of how an informed community is a responsive community.”

Leas says it they can’t share every detail of the district’s emergency preparedness efforts, but students, families, and staff can have confidence in the West Fargo School District’s ability to provide a safe learning and working environment.

The West Fargo School Board completes an annual reauthorization the district emergency operations plan every fall prior to the start of school.

In Moorhead, the district follows an approved Emergency Operations Plan. The Moorhead School Board reviews crisis management annually each January.

“Clear processes and procedures are in place and are vigilantly practiced and reviewed at each building location throughout the school year to strengthen our safe school environment and heighten preparedness,” said Brenda Richman with Moorhead Public Schools.

The emergency operations for Grand Forks Public Schools is also updated annually. It’s based off of research of best practices from several agencies including the U.S. Department of Education, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Secret Service.

“We have a safety and security manager, as well as a safety and security committee, which includes employees and emergency responders from a variety of agencies. This committee reviews safety needs and plans for emergencies. All procedures are researched and based on best practices,” explains Tracy Jentz of Grand Forks Public Schools.

Jentz says plans are reviewed and updated annually, and at times, they may be updated following a debrief of an incident.

For more information about emergency response plans, click on the links provided below.

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