Coweta County School System administrators and local law enforcement prepared for the new school year with a county-wide review of school safety procedures.
School principals, assistant principals and counselors met with local law enforcement, fire and emergency management officials, for a system-wide safety meeting on July 18. The meeting was held Wednesday at the Coweta County Fairgrounds, and was the first half of a full day of principal meetings held to prepare for the upcoming school year. At the Wednesday morning meeting. local safety officials collaborated with administrators as safety procedures were reviewed, and emergency situation table-top drills were conducted to review school safety plans.
Though school officials meet and plan regularly with local law enforcement, it was the first time that the school system and safety officials worked together in a system-wide meeting to discuss safety and emergency response, said school system safety Director Doug Moore.
“We’ve not had a had an exercise quite like this before,” said Moore. “To have this many law enforcement officials and first responders here was huge. It gives our schools a chance to review their safety plans in an in-depth way with all the experts here to help us.”
Moore and Superintendent Steve Barker thanked safety officials for attending, including Coweta County Emergency Management Director Jay Jones and members of the Coweta County Sheriff’s Department, Newnan Police Department, Newnan and Coweta County Fire Departments.
“This may be the most important meeting we have this year,” Superintendent Barker told principals.
All schools keep detailed safety and emergency response plans, which are developed with the input of state and local law enforcement officials. School officials review them regularly and hold drills throughout the year.
On Wednesday, meeting participants reviewed current school safety procedures, and also conducted table-top drills on subjects ranging from bomb threats, responses to chemical spills, bus accidents, school power outages inclement weather events, police activity within the vicinity of the school, hostile intruders and an active shooting event. Emergency response representatives sat in on school drills to review school planning documents and offer advice.
“This is awesome,” said Captain Stephen Crook, who supervises School Resource Officers for of the Coweta County Sherriff’s Office. “Holding exercises like this really helps school administrators to think these situations through. Every situation that a school might encounter is different, so it is important to go through the processes and review everyone’s responsibilities.” Crook said the meeting will help school administrators and law enforcement to go back to their respective schools and agencies and engage in wider staff training.
“I thought it was very good event,” said Newnan Fire Chief Stephen Brown. “We’ve done drills with individual schools and looked their plans before, but this was the first time we had an event this large, with everyone in the room together.”
“The schools have great safety plans, but this gave us all an opportunity to see administrators go through this material and give them our first-hand input. It gives us all an idea of what they are looking for in these situations, to let them they know what we’d be looking for as first responders, and what we’d need from each other.” Brown also said that the event gave school and law enforcement officials a better chance to get to know one another, as well.
“We are thankful for the partnership that exists between the school system, law enforcement, fire and rescue, first responders and local emergency management department,” said Superintendent Barker. “Strong collaboration between all entities is necessary in order for our safety plans and protocols to be aligned.”
Barker said that the exercise provided meaningful training for school staff “and helps us be better prepared for a crisis.” Input gathered at Wednesday’s meeting will allow schools and the school system to refine and improve safety plans, he said
“Along with hiring additional SROs and continuing to make facility modifications to improve school safety, this meeting supports the board’s efforts to continue to make improvements in overall school safety.”