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Sunday, July 3, 2022

West Virginia Legislature Blog

Interim Report: WV School Safety

A general session was held to hear about WV School Safety. On May 26, the Department of Homeland Security began looking at best practices. West Virginia Schools are required to have a crisis response plan, which must be submitted annually. DHS presented that school safety is everyone’s responsibility and the agency is looking to expand safety. The agency is currently in discussions for a reporting app where students, teachers, parents, and members of the public could submit reports if they hear about a potential shooting or other threat. The hope is the app could be used to report security issues such as an open door or a gate into campus being opened.

The Department of Education has been working with the Department of Homeland Security to connect county boards for safety plans. It is important to be proactive and have a threat assessment plan in place. Other programs in schools are designed to help identify vulnerable students. The One Caring Adult Program connects students with one school employee to provide them with an outlet for discussion because not all students have home lives where they can talk to parents. This helps identify students who might need additional resources or services.

The School Building Authority presented safety precautions taken in the design of the building. In 2017, the School Safety Act was adopted. All new schools constructed with SBA funds must have certain safety features. Concrete barriers must be in front of the entrance to stop cars from crashing into the building. Door and window numbering on the outside is required. Administrative traps are in new buildings to prevent visitors from entering the school. A-Phone cameras must be installed for visitors to identify themselves and be buzzed into the school. Safety glass and security glazing on windows are required. Panic exiting doors are required, which are doors that you cannot enter, but can exit. Currently, 326 of the 674 schools in the state have panic exit schools.

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