Suwannee Democrat

Mayo Free Press

January 31, 2013

LHS principal reviews safety/security measures

Mayo — Lafayette High School Principal Stewart Hancock recently expounded on safety and security measures at the school that he said they practice on a consistent basis. Many of which have been in place for years.

“Obviously when something happens like it did in Connecticut, it brings things back to the forefront,” said Hancock.

Both the high school and elementary school, Hancock said, do 10 emergency drills a year that include fire, bomb and tornado drills, as well as intruder on campus drills.

“We have procedures for that in every classroom,” he said.

Those procedures are reviewed each year before school starts by all the staff at the schools, Hancock continued. With some of the drills the teachers are warned ahead of time, he said, but other times they come as a complete surprise, and at the most inconvenient times, such as during the middle of a class change or during lunch.

“We just want to see how our faculty and our students are going to react,” he said.

After the drills are completed the teachers are informed via e-mail from the administration about procedures that need to be addressed, such as someone not locking a door or not turning off lights, depending on the particular drill and its relevant procedures.

Another fairly new safety measure is the locking of the gate next to the softball field during the day after all the buses leave and while students are in class.

“A lot of times safety and convenience work in opposite directions,” said Hancock. ”If we feel strongly that it’s going to add to the safety of our school and add to the safety of our students, then the inconvenience does not play a part.”

Locking classroom doors is another security measure they continue to explore. Additionally, Hancock said about three summers ago they had a live drill of “shooter on campus” and had several teachers and students participate.

“Even though it’s a drill and you kind of know what’s going to happen, it changes the way you react,” he said. “That was a great drill because we found some things we could do better.”

All of the school’s safety and security measures are given a lot of thought and Hancock said they try their best to keep all students safe without interrupting the learning environment. Hancock had many good things to say about school resource officers being readily available on campus and at school events. LHS, he said, is fortunate to have Officer Tysall in that position the majority of the time.

“There is no one hundred percent surefire way to make sure that what happened in Connecticut cannot happen in Mayo,” said Hancock. “I think the way we have to approach this is I’m sure they didn’t think it would ever happen at their school either.”

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