Every school in the Kamloops-Thompson School District will develop a unique safety plan as superintendent Terry Sullivan strikes a committee to review security practices in the district.
With the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., fresh in people's minds, Sullivan believes now is the time to look at how safe the district's schools are and what can be done to make them safer, he said Tuesday.
"There's internal measures that I think we need to become better at, and this is the opportunity for us to review this," said Sullivan.
That includes looking at who has keys to schools and who doesn't, which staff know security passwords and which don't. To do that, Sullivan has formed a committee of staff, teachers and union representatives under the guidance of school district health and safety manager Michelle Marginet.
The committee will review all of the district's security measures, threat-assessment protocols and critical-response procedures and see where there's room for improvement.
"We want to make sure that we're doing everything as well as we can do them. And the reason we're doing it now is we have everyone's attention," said Sullivan.
District staff dealt with five incidents following the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown. Three of those involved threats by three different students in three separate schools. Sullivan said the students have a history of mental illness
As a result, a new policy was put in place requiring all school doors except the front entrance be locked during in-class hours. Sullivan said the policies the committee will explore address other aspects of security.
"Those are the areas that we have to make sure we have procedures in place so we know who's in our buildings and what they are doing there," he said.
He said every school is different, so security measures that work for South Kamloops secondary won't apply to a rural school. That's why each school needs a plan of its own.
School board chairwoman Denise Harper said student safety is the district's No. 1 priority and it's important that children feel safe at school.
That said, Harper hopes the district doesn't become overly cautious and take steps that make people uneasy.
"I don't anticipate seeing any armed guards anywhere," she said. "I hope there's a healthy awareness of children's safety."
The committee's findings will be delivered in a report to trustees before the end of the school year.