SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Sarasota County students can now regularly expect active shooter drills.
Now under Florida law, students must have as many active shooter drills as they do fire drills. In Sarasota county that means students will undergo 10 active shooter drills this school year.
They will be trained to hide in designated safe corners, and special reflective film has been placed on classroom windows.
Kids outside of a classroom are being trained to run and hide to a designated safe area.
Also each school will have a designated threat assessment team. They’ll be made up of school resource officers, assistant principals, counselors, and staff.
They will focus on mental health, and be on the lookout for students who may exhibit dangerous behaviors.
“One of the things down here that I’ve really focused on since I’ve come down here is to see something, say something, but I added a little bit further- it’s the ‘do something,” said Sarasota County Schools Police Chief Tim Enos.
Many parents are on board.
“We live in a time right now where we need it and I’d rather be safe than sorry,” said parent Paige Schreiber.
“I think unfortunately in this day and age, its necessary,” said parent Kathy Boykin.
All traditional elementary, middle and high schools in Sarasota County are now staffed with at least one Sarasota Public Schools Police officer.
They are each very experienced. At Laurel Nokomis School, their School Resource officer is James Wozniak. He’s a former Chief of Police from Cranford, NJ.
“Its very, very important that as a public institution we have certain measures in place to make sure that we have our safety and standards protocol to ensure that students are going to be safe, to ensure that staff are going to be safe as well,” said Laurel Nokomis School Principal Raymond Wilson.
When Sarasota County students return to classes, they will have to put the phones down.
A new cell phone policy is now in place for the new school year.
Under a new school policy- high school students can only use electronic devices between class, during lunch or under supervision. Middle school students can only use them while supervised, and elementary school students can’t use electronic devices at all.
Some parents have expressed concerns.
“How you gonna get a hold of them if you can’t reach them? It’s a scary world we live in these days, so to not have any contact with them, I don’t think its ok,” said parent Brianna Delgado.
“There’s always a phone in the office that they can use to engage their child,” said School Board member Jane Goodwin.
Others are happy for the change.
“I think its probably for the best at their age,” said parent Kathy Boykin.
“I’m old school I didn’t get a cell phone until late middle school I guess,” said parent Matthew Martin. “Keep them social, keep them talking to each other, interacting with people face to face instead of texting and all that sort of thing.”
Also this year- changes to guest speakers.
If a visitor is going to talk to a class, they must fill out specialized forms and have their videos or content pre-approved by a committee.
This is in response to an incident last year when an inappropriate video was shown to high school students.