PICKENS COUNTY—As area teachers and students look towards a fresh start, Administrators in Pickens and Anderson Counties are hoping to keep the focus on safety this school year.
Students returned to the classrooms this week, and local principals say safety has never been more important.
“We are responsible for the safety of the kids in our community and that’s something we take very seriously,” Pickens Middle School Principal Jeff Duncan said. “If a student doesn’t feel safe here, they’re not going to be able to learn here so we try to do everything we can to make them feel safe.”
Pickens County recently announced it would be taking a few extra safety precautions in 2013-14, including installing intercom systems that require visitors to be “buzzed” in upon arrival.
“I think the new systems at the doors help our parents feel safer,” Duncan said. “You always hear so many negative things in the news, and I think having this system installed as a district will help improve safety”
Easley High School Principal Tim Mullis said his school takes this issue seriously as well.
“We really try to take safety seriously,” Mullis said. “We try to instill in our kids the importance of safety. That’s why we wear ID tags and that’s why we have teachers on duty in different spots throughout the building all during the day. Safety is very much on our minds each day.”
Mullis said students and faculty at Easley have been reminded of the new safety procedures.
“We encourage (our students and faculty) not to just open a door,” Mullis said. “They know that if somebody wants to come in they have to buzz in. We try to make sure we have the place covered and that we have comprehensive safety procedures.”
Anderson School District One Superintendent David Havird said part of insuring safety means working together with local law enforcement.
“Our main priority each year has to be safety,” Havird said. “We’ve added three additional school resource officers (SRO). Each of the six middle and high schools will have a full time resource officer and each of the eight elementary schools will have a resource officer with a visible presence in their building for at least a couple hours each day.”
Each high school in Pickens County is serviced by an SRO, and Mullis said it has been very beneficial.
“Having a police car on campus is also a big help for us,” Mullis said. “We feel like that’s just an extra advantage our school has in keeping our children safe.”
Duncan said the most important part of school safety is talking about it regularly.
“We’ve spent a great deal of time talking with our teachers about daily safety procedures,” Duncan said. “Everyone at Pickens Middle wants to do what is best for the students, and doing the little things that keep the school safe each day is very important.”
“As a district, I think it’s always important to engage in an ongoing discussion about safety,” Duncan continued. “It’s something that we can’t talk about and practice enough.”