Schools around US boost security


Washington : In the aftermath of the elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, schools around the U.S. have brought in additional security staff and restricted visitors as they deal with a new rash of copycat threats.

For some families and educators it all has added to uneasiness in the wake of the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Jake Green, 34, of Los Alamos, New Mexico, was jolted when he saw a plainclothes police officer for the first time while walking his 7-year-old daughter into school Friday morning. He grew up in Colorado, not far from where two Columbine High School students shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher in 1999. Green remembers attending memorials and candlelight vigils as a fifth-grader, but he’s torn about whether having police at his daughter’s school is best. In a way, I don’t really feel any safer with police around, Green said. Seeing the police there, it really made it seem like the worst possibility was even more possible today.

In El Paso, Texas, where a gunman killed 23 people in a racist 2019 attack that targeted Hispanics at a Walmart, schools are on edge. The El Paso Independent School District has already encountered some reported threats that turned out to be false. They were either students joking or overly-sensitive parents, said Gustavo Reveles Acosta, a district spokesperson. Our community is still raw from that incident, Acosta said. It hits us in a pretty emotional way. The district, which has its own police department, has also stepped up patrolling at all 85 campuses. Officers have been pulled from monitoring traffic or other duties. Schools already have updated camera surveillance systems. Visitors are required to ring a doorbell and show identification before they can enter. The district is making a point to look out for teachers’ and students’ mental health. A counseling team has been visiting every school to speak about the shooting in Uvalde. They are also urging people to talk in private about any distress. Mia Baucom, a 15-year-old student at a Forth Worth, Texas, high school said it was surreal to think the Uvalde killings happened in her home state. It also stirred memories of a lockdown at her school two months ago that was prompted by a shooting.