The long holiday break has given Greensburg Community School (GCS) officials plenty of time to implement new policies and procedures centered around student safety.
In light of December’s tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn. that took the lives of 20 elementary students and six faculty members, school safety has become a topic of intense discussion around the country.
In the wake of that tragedy, when Greensburg students return to their studies Monday, they’ll pass through an entrance now equipped with a camera and intercom system.
Visitors may enter each of the three schools at doors located near the school’s office. All doors will be locked during school hours, so visitors will simply press a button alerting school staff to their presence in the foyer.
School office staff will be able to see the visitor on camera and will then be able to allow access.
GCS School Resource Officer Bruce Copple explained that identification may be required in certain instances, and all schools will continue to follow the standard sign-in procedure for each visitor.
Visitors must also wear a name tag and sign out when exiting the building.
But the changes taking place at Greensburg Community Schools are not a “knee-jerk” reaction to national headlines and discussion forums.
Instead, some aspects of the new policies instituted have been in the planning stages for some time, according to Copple.
Officer Copple further noted the new policies in effect are not aimed at ostracizing anyone in the community, nor are they intended to discourage visitors.
“Greensburg Community Schools have always tried to be very warm and welcoming, and we’re not going to change that,” Copple said. “That’s not what we’re after.”
What school officials hope to continue to see however, are two aspects Copple touts as integral in the success of any educational facility safety measure: building positive relationships among students, teachers, administrators and parents, as well as providing proper student supervision.
Along those lines, Copple mentioned Greensburg students and school staff are well versed in safety plans covering essentially everything from fire drills to emergency lock-downs to severe weather preparedness. Copple said students and staff members continue to be trained in each of these areas and more while staff meetings typically focus on being observant of students.
The reaction to the plan has, thus far, been overwhelmingly positive.
“I cannot count the number of people we’ve talked with who have thanked us for putting these systems in,” said Copple.
Prior to the institution of the new policies, GCS Superintendent Tom Hunter gave calls to parents and guardians of students notifying adults of the new measures set to go in place. Students were also sent home with outlines of the new procedures.
“We worked very hard on this to get it done before school started again,” said Hunter. “We wanted to do whatever we could to improve what we already have in place.”
Copple said Tim Kane, head of GCS maintenance, and school vendors have also worked to help prepare for the changes. Local law enforcement officials have been made aware of the new procedures as well.
Officer Copple noted that St. Mary’s Catholic School, which shares its schedule and a bus system with GCS, is following suit with nearly identical safety measures.
On the county side, Decatur County Community Schools (DCCS) Superintendent Johnny Budd told the Daily News Friday afternoon that he anticipates security changes forthcoming in the near future, likely within the next month, among the six county schools.
“We’re going to do the best we can to protect all of our students and personnel,” said Budd.
That sentiment was echoed by Superintendent Hunter.
“We’ve instituted these measures to enhance our school security,” Hunter said. “We’re gonna do everything we can to keep our kids safe.”
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056