The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut has forced thousands of schools to reconsider how they protect their students. Prince George's County is taking action by installing security upgrades at all of its more than 200 public schools. County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins took a look at the changes already underway at Largo High School in Upper Marlboro.
Following several school shootings across the country, Prince George’s County Public Schools is implementing a security upgrade.
No longer will there be easy access to Prince George’s County school buildings.
“It’s somewhat of a burden lifted,” Largo High School principal Dr. Angelique Simpson Marcus said.
Mass shootings, like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, had educators and parents on edge around the country, and Marcus was one of them.
“What would happen at my school?” she wondered.
PGCPS Directory of Security Rex Barrett is leading an effort to upgrade security measures at every school in the county.
“What we started with was securing the exterior of our facilities to make it more difficult for public access,” he said.
That includes a new electronic entry system.
“What it would do is allow us to keep the doors locked without having someone to come out and actually answer the door or open the door because by depressing the button it gives you instant communication with the front office,” Barrett said.
Once a visitor is inside the building, their government IDs will be scanned.
“That would check through the national sex offender registry, allow us to look at protective orders, things along those lines so we can be alerted to potential dangers to our students and staff,” Barrett said.
Also, panic buttons spread throughout schools will allow staff to quickly alert police and the school system without dialing 911.
“With a school that has 72 doors, now that everything is secure, we also have the panic button that we’re able to activate if necessary, it does create some sense of calm,” Marcus said.