District officials work to make schools safer

School safety has quickly risen to the top of the Carson City School District's list of priorities.

"We've been lucky that we haven't had any real incidents," Director of Operations Mike Mitchell said. "We want to keep it that way."

Mitchell presented the latest additions to the district's four-year school safety plan at the school board meeting Tuesday night at the Carson City Community Center.

This year, a "critical incident stress management team" has been put into operation.

The team will work with students after a traumatic event has taken place at the school.

"They help counsel people to get through those traumatic experiences," Mitchell said.

The team will be used not only for major tragedies but also to counsel students after a school fight or about the death of a classmate.

Members of the team will receive more training to deal with high-stress situations in October.

The school district will also dedicate much of the proposed $18 million school bond to increasing school safety.

Mitchell walked through Fritsch Elementary School and demonstrated how easy it would be for a gunman to enter the school and how difficult it would be for the staff to prevent a disaster.

"The doors remain unlocked during the day," Mitchell said. "Teachers can only lock their doors from the outside."

That would change, however, if the bond passes in November.

"All of our existing door hardware - the handles and the locks - would be converted into an infrared scanning system," Mitchell said.

The intercom system from each school would also be replaced and updated. Now, only one teacher can call into the office at a time.

With the improvements, Mitchell demonstrated how the gunman scenario would be different.

"The teacher would see him and call in a Code Red," Mitchell said. "She can now lock the door from the inside by scanning her card as well as from the outside."

He said the staff would be instructed that during a Code Red, the doors would all have to be locked, the shades would have to be drawn and the children would all have to be lined up against an interior wall.

In addition to the steps already taken to make schools more safe, including surveillance cameras and deputies at Carson High School, the district is also planning to require all employees to wear photo identification badges.


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