JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s a new school year and there’s a new focus on school security – particularly after last spring’s deadly mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed in the attack – which ignited reevaluations of schools across the country.
In Duval County, staff at Mandarin High School held special drills this summer. The same drills were also held at Crown Point Elementary. They focused on how to reunite parents and children if there is a disaster, like an armed attacker.
News4JAX was there as staff and volunteers worked to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
Related: Duval school police, staff train for reuniting parents, students in active shooter situation
In mid-July, News4JAX showed you inside a grim dress rehearsal at Crown Point Elementary School. It showed a practice run for how school staff would respond to a disaster – including an armed attacker.
Duval County School Police Chief Greg Burton said part of the goal is identifying the top priorities – should the worst happen.
“There are two major critical incidents that will happen in any emergency at a school,” Burton said, “One is communication often will fail. The other is reunification.”
Both are critical in making sure parents get the information they need in a crisis – and get reunited with their children as soon as possible.
The district also tested out its emergency alert system which sends notifications directly to the phones of parents or guardians if there is an emergency or evacuation.
The Duval County district, and the City of Jacksonville, have also partnered with security firm “Armoured One” to give staff even more training and safety assessments to identify any other vulnerabilities.
The district said you should do two things: First, make sure to update your contact information with your child’s school office- if you haven’t already. That way, if there is an emergency – or early release, the school has the right person on file. It won’t release kids to parents who aren’t listed with the school.
Second, download the Duval County Public Schools app – make sure to turn on emergency notifications – that way you’ll get that alert immediately if anything happens at your child’s school. DCPS is also continually upgrading security at its school buildings – thanks to some dedicated funding from the half-cent sales tax.
That sales tax was approved almost two years ago now. Click here to read more.