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Chatham school district is attentive to school safety

Posted Sunday, October 22, 2006

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Chatham County, NC - The fifteen schools in Chatham County Schools have school safety plans and procedures in place to give students and staff a safe learning environment. All schools have completed the requirements for the Critical Incident Response Kit program as recommended by the Governor's office.

Many schools have security cameras, walkie-talkies, and other technology to support school safety. The school district has the Instant Alert for Schools™ system for rapid communication with families and employees. Schools and the central office use the system for announcements, notifications related to inclement weather, and how to work with the schools in the event of an emergency. Through Instant Alert for Schools™, administrators can send a message via telephone, email, pager, and text message to thousands of individuals in minutes.

On October 6, all principals and assistant principals received a set of school safety tips from the Center for the Prevention of School Violence. Center staff created the timely list following several recent school shootings across the nation.

A crisis committee comprised of school staff, Emergency Operations personnel, the Sheriff's Office, the Pittsboro and Siler City Police Departments, First Health, Chatham Hospital, the Fire Marshal and Partnership for Drug-Free North Carolina is an additional school safety resource for Chatham County Schools. George Greger-Holt, Student Assistance Safe Schools Counselor for Chatham County Schools, is the committee chairman.

All schools are required by state law to conduct monthly fire drills. For instance, Horton Middle School held its second fire drill of the year on September 29. Horton held a lockdown drill with the assistance of a Chatham County Sheriff's Office on Friday, October 6. During a lockdown, the entire school is secured; no one enters and no one exits.

“Both drills went extremely well with constructive feedback to help make the school even safer,” commented Mervin Jenkins, principal.

Bennett School held a lockdown drill the on August 25, first day of school. Chatham Middle School had a lockdown drill on October 4. Bonlee School held a lockdown drill on October 6.

Chatham Central High School is reviewing and revising its crisis plan in preparation for a lockdown drill.

J.S. Waters School reviewed its updated crisis plan during a faculty meeting in early October. The school, like all others in the district, will hold periodic lockdown drills.

Jordan-Matthews High School held a lockdown drill on August 31. The drill was particularly timely since an on-campus shooting had occurred the previous day at Orange High School in Hillsborough.

Moncure School has special safety previsions in place due to its close proximity to the Shearon Harris nuclear plant. The plans include on-site and evacuation plans.

North Chatham School is reviewing and revising its crisis plan.

Northwood High School conducted a lockdown drill on October 5 with the help of Captain Michael Roberson of the Chatham County Sheriff's Office. The school is creating an emergency response team comprised of faculty members. The Sheriff's Office will hold a training session for the team.

Perry Harrison School administrators discussed lockdown scenarios during a faculty meeting on October 10 in preparation for an upcoming schoolwide drill.

Pittsboro Elementary School has monthly fire and lockdown drills. The school also has a drill for campus evacuation.

SAGE Academy had a lockdown drill on September 12. All new staff had lockdown procedure training on September 5.

Siler City Elementary School will have a lockdown drill in October.

Silk Hope School administrators have reviewed crisis drill policies and procedures with staff members. Teachers have discussed procedures with students and the school will have at least one lockdown drill during the month of October.

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