RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — What are the best ways to keep children safe in the classroom?
It’s something state and local leaders continue to work on.
On Wednesday, the Center for Safer Schools met to figure out ways to improve safety and security in schools.
Karen Fairley, the center’s executive director, announced upcoming changes that her team is working on.
Those changes include new action codes that district officials will begin using during emergencies.
“A lot of times, we hear lockdown, and parents in a particular community, as they should, will panic or get really concerned,” explained Fairley. “Sometimes it’s not because of an intruder in the building. It’s because something that is happening in the community.”
Officials are working with the non-profit “I love U guys” on new terms, to help parents, students, and staff better understand threats they may deal with.
“[For example] ‘hold’ means everyone stays in place, there’s no traveling out of the building. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something happening in the building,” said Fairley.
There’s also a renewed push to get panic alarm software in each school district.
In 2022, the General Assembly allocated $4.4 million to middle and high schools to get the program.
While these are all reactive changes, officials are also learning to prevent problems in the first place.
The task force is already preparing districts and training staff for the new “Threat Assessment Teams” that will be in each school across the state starting in the 2024-25 school year.
Officials have also added new behavioral codes to their disciplinary action tracking system.
“We want to start tracking the data and start tracking specifics on what’s going on,” said Fairley.
Threats of mass violence, threats to harm others, and possession of profane and/or violent material, are just some of the new behavioral codes added to the center’s system.
These new codes will help them figure out how they can better help their students and communities.
Another priority for officials is continuing to push the anonymous reporting system in North Carolina schools.
“Say Something” launched in November 2019, and there have already been more than 25,000 tips submitted by students regarding bullying, problem behaviors, and more.