COVINGTON, Georgia. – Newton County’s top school system administrator said Wednesday it is already combining technology with live officer patrols to keep unwanted visitors out of its 24 schools.
Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey said Newton County schools are equipped with digital communication devices and video broadcasting and recording equipment. Live law enforcement officials with access to K-9 agents also patrol schools, she said.
The system is designed to help protect schools in Newton County from attacks such as those that occurred in Uvalde, Texas, west of San Antonio this week.
An 18-year-old gunman entered Robb Primary School in Uvalde on Tuesday May 24 and shot dead 19 children and two teachers after barricading himself in a fourth grade classroom.
The suspect, identified as Salvador Ramos, allegedly shot his grandmother before the incident and crashed a vehicle outside the school before entering through a back door, police said.
A United States Customs and Immigration officer reportedly shot and killed the suspect.
Fuhrey said: “Our hearts are with the families, school staff and the entire Uvalde community as they navigate the days and weeks ahead.”
“Sadly, the tragic event that happened at Robb Elementary School joins a long list of tragedies related to schools and children,” she said.
“School safety is our number one priority, and we have continued to focus on our efforts to create safe school environments that meet the needs of our students,” Fuhrey said.
The school system has about 19,000 enrollment and employs about 2,600 teachers, administrators and staff, according to information from the NCSS and the National Center for Education Statistics.
He recently hired a school safety coordinator who works with law enforcement and conducts regular risk assessments and training sessions with NCSS administrators and staff, Fuhrey said.
All schools in the Newton County School System (NCSS) regularly hold safety drills with their students, Fuhrey said.
Each school building is also equipped with a communication device – audio and video – which requires visitors to speak with reception staff before being allowed to enter a school building, she said.
The school system uses the ViewPath Camera Security Alert for Educators (SAFE) system in every classroom, she said.
“This resource allows teachers and staff to send alerts to discreetly notify designated emergency responders,” Fuhrey said.
She said the SAFE system provides live audio and video streaming and recording “that ensures appropriate mitigation for every situation.”
“In addition, NCSS has a strong partnership with local law enforcement officials and employs School Resource Officers (SROs) and a K-9 unit,” she said.
“Safety and security are at the forefront of our concerns as we are aware of the tragedies that have occurred on school campuses,” she said.
“In the wake of” tragedies, NCSS employs RethinkEd, which uses research-based tools and resources to provide students, families and staff with social, emotional and mental support, Fuhrey said.