More security measures in place as Stanly County students head back to class

Published 1:49 pm Thursday, August 3, 2023

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By Chris Miller, for the SNAP

As students and teachers head back to the classroom, Stanly County Schools has been working to ensure the new school year will be as safe as possible.

For the first time, there will be full-time school resource officers stationed at each of the 11 elementary schools. That’s an improvement from the beginning of last school year, when most of the elementary schools did not have full-time officers. In the past, SROs at each of the middle and high schools would routinely visit elementary schools in their area.

Law enforcement agencies across the county also regularly interact with students and staff at the schools in their jurisdiction, especially those without SROs, walking the hallways and familiarizing themselves with the locations in preparation for potential emergencies.

The additional positions have come from local municipalities, county commissioners and local safety grants, SCS Superintendent Dr. Jarrod Dennis said. Locust, Stanfield, Oakboro, Norwood and Albemarle have each paid for their respective schools to have SROs in place.

“We have received a lot of positive feedback from parents and community stakeholders once they found out we were going to have SRO’s” at each of the elementary schools, said Jennifer Flowe, the district’s director of safety and security.

Flowe, a former school administrator, has played a key role in strengthening the district’s security, applying to numerous safety grants over the past year. She helped the district secure two grants totaling around $800,000 last year. Some of the money went towards financing more SRO positions.

“I don’t know of a lot of rural school districts our size that can say that they have SROs at all their schools,” Dennis said. “It’s obviously a shout-out to all the entities that helped fund the positions.”

Making sure that each school had its own SRO had been an ongoing initiative for the district.

“I know it sounds cliché, but safety in our schools is paramount,” Dennis said. “We can’t have school if our schools aren’t safe.”

All of the elementary schools also now have portable metal detectors, which will be used for large-scale events such as award ceremonies. The middle and high schools already had the detectors, which were installed a few years ago.

Random safety checks at the middle and high schools, which began last year, will continue for the upcoming school year. This involves students walking through the metal detectors and having their bags searched. The district has trained school administrators to make sure each school has a team in place to conduct the searches.

SCS will continue to use the Say Something app, where middle and high school students can share tips anonymously.

Detailed information about the ways the district has worked to improve safety can be found under the Resources tab on the district website. There is also a link discussing athletic safety protocols, which took effect last October.

Ultimately, it takes multiple groups working together to make sure the district is as safe and secure as possible.

“It has to do with a partnership that we have across Stanly County with our county commissioners, our local municipalities, our emergency management, our emergency services, all of our law enforcement departments,” Flowe said. “It takes a collaborative group effort to ensure the safety for all of our students and staff.”