MESA, AZ — School security has been top of mind for many people as children head back to the classroom, especially after the recent shooting in a Uvalde, Texas elementary school.
Some Valley school districts have worked to improve their safety measures.
Allen Moore is the director of security and safety for the state’s largest school district, Mesa Public Schools. It’s his job to make sure the tools and protocols are in place to prepare the schools for any potential threat.
“There's a lot of anxiety among parents and staff with the tragedies that have happened recently,” Moore said. “Anytime there's a tragedy, such as what happened in Uvalde, I mean, my stomach gets upset…that obviously upsets me.”
Moore said he’s been reviewing the lockdown and emergency management protocols with the Mesa Police Department and other districts to ensure they’re using the best practices available.
“Ever since Sandy Hook, we've been ramping up the security protocols,” he said. “We've been increasing safety, such as putting up fencing, to create one point of entry.”
Some new improvements in place this school year include the ability for staff to access their school’s lockdown system from the palm of their hand through the app “Informacast.”
“That is going to be placed on every staff member’s cell phone, desktop, and desk phone.”
Also, blue strobe lights will be in areas where the intercom can be hard to hear, such as the playground, library, and front of the school.
Schools will eventually have a front office remodel if they don’t already have it in place. Most will have a window protecting the front office with glass that has ballistic proof film. It will create a sort of waiting area where visitors have to be vetted by front office staff before they can get buzzed into the rest of the school.
If they can’t do a full-on remodel, the front doors to a school will remain locked and an intercom camera system will go into place for visitors to communicate with the front desk.
Other protocol include locking all classroom doors during the school day, ballistic grade film on all classroom door windows and classroom windows, four lockdown drills a year involving students, and doing age-appropriate presentations to students explaining the lockdown protocols.
“Overall, I feel good and usually when I explain to a parent or even a staff member here's all the protocols that we have in place, they a lot of times didn't realize we had all those protocols in place and they feel better after they talk to me,” Moore said.
Moore said the main reason they were able to fund this level of security was through the bonds voters decide on during elections.
“If it weren’t for the bonds, we wouldn’t be talking about this at all,” he said. “Thank you to the community for passing that bond.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Mesa Public Schools’ safety plans, click here.