Mississippi schools discuss latest student safety measures in the wake of deadly Texas shooting
ABERDEEN, Miss. (WCBI) – As educators in Mississippi watched the horror of the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas unfold Tuesday, some of them couldn’t help but think of the children under their protection.
“I would do anything to protect the students here,” says Dr. Shanika McKinney, assistant principal and safety coordinator for Belle-Shivers Middle School in Aberdeen. “If that means getting in the way of a bullet, I will do that. And we have teachers here who have that same mindset.”
“First thing I think of is, ‘Is my school secure? Are my children safe?'” said Lowndes County Sheriff’s Deputy and Caledonia School Resource Officer Chris Blaylock, describing his reaction to the shooting. “When these students walk through the door, they become my children.”
It’s forcing schools across Mississippi and the rest of the United States, to find new ways to be ready for this nightmare scenario.
“I think every time a school shooting occurs, it hits home,” says Dr. McKinney. “I think it becomes a reality more and more for educators across the world that it is a possibility that we may be in a crisis situation where we have to put our lives on the line for our students.”
Dr. McKinney tweeted Tuesday that this latest school shooting left her with several questions. Chief among them: what kind of safety procedures did Robb Elementary have and were those procedures they followed during the attack?
“When there is a crisis situation, most people go into a flight or fight response,” she says. “And we want to make sure that through practice, our teachers are prepared.”
It starts by keeping track of everyone going in and out of Belle-Shivers Middle School.
“No student is allowed to let someone in or out of the building,” Dr. McKinney says. “Teachers are required to have their classroom doors locked. No student is allowed to open the classroom door.”
Dr. McKinney says that while the safety team comes up with its plan before the school year, they reevaluate it throughout the year so that they are prepared for any new crisis they might face.
“It’s vitally important to go back and say, ‘What can we do different? How do we better plan for this?'”
It’s something that Deputy Blaylock says also happens on the law enforcement side.
“After the massacre in Parkland, Florida, training changed,” he says. “We don’t wait for backup, we immediately go in to address whatever threat that our students and faculty are facing.”
No matter the crisis, Dr. McKinney says she and her staff understand that their place is also between their students and that threat.
“We’re here to protect children and educate children,” she says. “That’s why we’re here.”
Even though the semester is coming to a close, Dr. McKinney says that first thing Wednesday morning, she sent an email to the Belle-Shivers teachers, reminding them of the safety procedures that they have gone over during 2022.