Central Texas schools say they’re prepared to respond to active shooters

FILE - AISD police (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - AISD police (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In the wake of a mass shooting at a Florida high school, school districts in Central Texas are assuring students and parents they are taking every precaution against a similar situation.

Many local school districts say they tightened security and adopted new safety procedures after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

Eanes ISD Superintendent Dr. Tom Leonard offered condolences to the victims of Wednesday’s shooting in Florida in an email sent out to parents and teachers.

“As we watch the horrific news from Florida, we cannot help but hug our families closer tonight,” Leonard said in the email. “School shootings have, unfortunately, become more common-place. While thankfully we have not experienced such a tragedy, we also recognize we are not immune, which is why we continually conduct various drills and train our staff annually on a variety of incidents.”

Superintendent Leonard says Eanes ISD partners with local law enforcement to train and prepare for such events. He added that school counselors would be on hand at all of the district’s campuses Thursday, for any students struggling with news of the shooting.

AISD and Hays County ISD also said they work with outside law enforcement agencies to prepare for emergencies, even tragedies.

“AISD Police is prepared to respond in a crisis and regularly works with outside police and safety organizations to ensure they have plans in place to mitigate any situation,” a district spokeswoman said in a statement. “Every high school has two dedicated School Resource Officers. All middle schools have one dedicated SRO. AISD PD also has patrol officers that monitor elementary schools. The department is staffed 24 hours each day. Our campuses are equipped with secure entrances where staff have all visitors scan identification through a secure system to ensure the safety of our students.”

At Hays County ISD, school leaders say they work with local law enforcement to practice language used during emergencies, so that there are no misunderstandings during actual emergencies.

“The district continues to work with the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, Hays County Office of Emergency Management, and local police departments and first responders to practice standard response protocol drills annually at every campus,” a district spokesman said in a statement. “We contract with the Hays County Sheriff’s Office to provide school resource officers (SROs). We have 11 SROs based at our six middle schools and two comprehensive high schools.”

Hays CISD also added several security measures after its 2014 bond passed.

“We reconfigured the entryways to two older middle schools to require visitors to enter though the office,” the district’s statement said. “Additionally, in that bond, we added more security cameras and upgraded the entire district’s phone system to be compatible with enhanced 911. Now, when an emergency call is made from a district phone, we know exactly where the phone is located in the building.”

AISD says all of its schools have secure entrances with buzzer systems. Office staff must identify visitors on a live camera feed before letting them in.

A spokesperson for Round Rock ISD said its schools also have secure entrances. Schools in Round Rock are patrolled by resource officers. School officials say they also track social media for any potential threats on RRISD campuses.

Travis County Sheriff’s deputies work with several school districts to provide security during the school year. When students are out for the summer, TCSO school resource officers do incident training inside those schools, preparing for emergencies that could come up during the school year.

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