Lancaster County to revamp school safety measures ahead of fall semester

LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — In light of all the violence we’ve seen across the country, one local school district will completely revamp its safety measures over the summer, while students are preparing for the next school year.

Lancaster County Schools is looking at a number of security upgrades. One of the biggest changes it wants to make is placing armed guards, or student resource officers, in elementary schools.

“People just forget about schools and as long as nothing major is going on, nobody wants to rock the boat until something happens,” said John Roach, a former Lancaster County Schools teacher. “There’s been an extreme rash of gun violence and active shooters.”

Roach said he is glad to see leaders taking a proactive approach to safety before anything major happens.

The district is hard at work trying to address multiple security issues. Leaders want to improve communication, secure the areas around portable classrooms and add more metal detectors district-wide before the start of the new year.

“Better communication systems, intercom radio, two-way systems, so they can communicate back and forth quickly to an office. We’re also looking at fencing,” said Bryan Vaughn, a Lancaster County Schools spokesperson.

The district said in a Facebook post that all classroom doors will remain locked and only teachers are allowed to open them during class time. Posters will also be put up in schools to remind students and teachers how they should respond to active shooter situations.

“We want to make sure our training is up to date. We want to make sure our teachers and staff know everything to do in every situation and what the expectations are,” Vaughn said.

Lancaster County Schools is also working on adding armed SROs to every local elementary school. A few weeks ago, Channel 9′s Tina Terry reported that both high schools and middle schools in the district already have SROs, but elementary schools do not have them.

“They’ll be a person who could make sure that if there was an armed intruder they would be certified trained with weapons and be able to defend the kids ultimately,” Vaughn said.

School leaders said an officer shortage has kept them from adding officers to elementary schools. If that situation does not improve, the district said it will look into hiring armed security guards to work at elementary schools.

(WATCH BELOW: Backpacks banned from school for rest of year after student brings gun to campus)