To ensure schoolchildren in Oklahoma aren't subjected to violence and tragedy as in recent incidents across the U.S., Sandy Garrett, State Superintendent of Public Instruction has reported that schools across the state are using various strategies for protecting students.
"As Americans and Oklahomans, we live in a very open society and, while our freedoms are dear to us, we are always vulnerable to those bent on doing evil," Garrett said. "However, I want to assure the parents and relatives of the more than 600,000 boys and girls attending Oklahoma's public schools that principals and teachers are utilizing all feasible means available to them to ensure their students' safety."
Pat Harrison, Ada School Superintendent, said while school security is constantly being monitored at Ada schools, they have not implemented any new precautions since the school shootings in Colorado and Pennsylvania, but a crisis plan is in place if ever needed.
"We're not doing anything more than what we were doing before, " Harrison said. "We monitor who's coming and who's going at all sites, and we have video surveillance at all sites. We also have crisis plans in place and they're on file with the city in case they are ever needed. We haven't gone into any crisis plan or mode at this point, but it's a scary situation and you've always got to be on your toes and ready for the worst, unfortunately."
Oklahoma law requires all school sites to have Safe Schools Committees made up of teachers, parents and administrators. These committees are in charge of making recommendations to principals for making their schools safer each year. Crisis plans, like the one Harrison mentioned, must also be in place, reviewed and updated annually. These are also composed by safe school committees.
"These recommendations and plans are more than bound paper documents," Garrett said. "For example, they give intricate instructions for how teachers are to be notified if an intruder enters a school and in what instances teachers are to lockdown their classrooms or follow through with their school's comprehensive evacuations plan."
Garrett also noted that citizens are encouraged to utilize the state department of education's safety hotline, 1-877-SAFE-CALL, ext. OK1 if they think they might know of a potential, pending danger to their schools or its students. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and calls made to it are anonymous.