CHARLOTTE — Amid the tragic elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that claimed the lives of 19 children and two adults, many local school districts are asking if they are doing enough to keep our youngest, most vulnerable children safe.
“Anytime something like this is happening in our nation, in our community, our hearts immediately go out to the community and the families,” said Andrew Jones, the Safety and Security Director with Rock Hill Schools.
Jones told Channel 9′s Tina Terry that the district is already hyper-focused on safety, like having an armed officer or security officer at every school district-wide. But that’s not the case in other districts.
“We are continually improving our security and safety measures,” he said.
There are also surveillance cameras at every school in Rock Hill -- more than 2,000 of them to be exact. The perimeter of every campus is enclosed, and every school has just one entrance and everyone entering has to be buzzed in.
“They’re the good guys with the guns and they’re the ones there to protect children and our staff and our visitors, so we think it is very important in this district,” Jones said.
Leaders with Fort Mill, Clover, York and Chester schools said they have an armed guard protecting every school, but Lancaster County Schools said not all elementary schools have resource officers because of a shortage of police officers. Chesterfield County Schools said it does not have resource officers at elementary schools for several reasons, including a lack of funding.
Congressman Ralph Norman said all school districts should learn from what happened at the elementary school in Texas.
“This is a wake-up call for every American to prioritize making all of our schools safer,” he said.
Norman said he expects there to be some conversations at the federal level about school safety, but he said in large part, this will have to be addressed at the local level because each district knows its weaknesses in the area of safety.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools said they have resource officers at K-8 schools, middle and high schools. The district said at least twice a year, all schools conduct lock-down drills, and every school is required to create and update a safety plan in case of emergencies. They also said all exterior access doors are locked at all times.
CMPD increases police presence at elementary schools amid Texas massacre
Amid the tragic elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that claimed the lives of 19 children and two adults, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said it is increasing patrols around elementary schools in the area.
CMPD said for people not to be alarmed if they see an increased police presence and that it’s just precautionary measures.
“Do not be alarmed if you see an increased police presence around these schools. These are precautionary measures to engage more with school administrators and our community,” the department said on Twitter.
Increased Police Presence at Elementary Schools https://t.co/bBPjJTgwxQ— CMPD News (@CMPD) May 25, 2022
Chopper 9 flew over some Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Thursday morning, where more police could be seen. At one point, officers were seen searching someone outside Winterfield Elementary School. The person was let go, but it showed how heightened the state of fear is on every school campus across the nation.
“Today our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families, and officers in Uvalde, Texas who suffered loss from such a senseless act of gun violence. We are increasing patrols in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region around our schools,” CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said on social media.
Children’s safety in schools continues to be on everyone’s minds, including parents and families, following the shooting in Texas.
On Wednesday evening, Channel 9 spoke with a retired SWAT team leader, Chad Ayers, who teaches active-shooter training in the Charlotte area. He’s asking parents to speak with their children about what to do in these types of situations.
“The chances you ever find yourself in a shooter situation is very small,” he said. “Get away if you can. If you can’t get away, we need to shut, lock, barricade, make it as difficult as possible.”
He also said parents should teach their children to say something if they see something.
(WATCH BELOW: Texas school shooting: What you need to know)
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