CONYERS, GA– Rockdale County Public Schools (RCPS) continues to keep the safety of students and staff its highest priority by adding to the multiple safety measures already implemented throughout the district. These enhancements come amid a renewed focus nationally on school safety and security in the wake of the mass shooting that killed 19 students and two staff members in Uvalde, Texas last month.
RCPS Superintendent Terry Oatts recently approved the acquisition of a state-of-the-art weapons detection system that can be rapidly deployed to schools and school facilities for purposes of detecting the possible presence and possession of weapons. The high-tech weapons detection system, OPENGATE, is the first wire-free, screening portal consisting of two independent and self-powered pillars with each pillar equipped with a support base and electronic analysis system. Unlike metal detector gates, OPENGATE does not require a mechanical and electrical connection between the two transducers that define the passageway.
“This weapons detection system is yet another significant layer to our multi-layered school safety measures as we prepare for the 2022-23 school year,” said Oatts. “We will strategically deploy this weapons detection system both proactively and responsively, as a means of deterrence and detection.”
Oatts also approved the acquisition of the EPIC Crisis Alert System, which includes centralized and local school emergency remote activated notifications and classroom surveillance.
These technologically advanced safety measures are only part of the enhancements. RCPS will add school safety personnel at each of the three traditional high schools, including a school safety attendant to work closely with administration and School Resource Officers (SROs) as well as adding an additional SRO. For each grade band – elementary, middle, and high – RCPS will add an extra itinerate assistant principal to provide prevention and intervention support with high priority disciplinary occurrences.
Another added safety measure is the requirement that all students carry clear bookbags. RCPS will provide each student with one clear bookbag at the beginning of the school year so there is no additional cost to parents as we transition to this type of bookbag.
RCPS Director of School Safety Darryn Greene echoed the value of multi-layered school safety measures.
“Today’s school safety and security challenges are multi-faceted, starting from when students arrive at their bus stop all the way to their safe return home. There is no single measure that will ensure the safety and security of our students and staff. It takes a multi-layered approach to school safety along with the collective support of our valuable law enforcement partners and the vigilance of our community stakeholders to meet these challenges,” said Greene.
Officials said RCPS has enhanced other safety measures over the past few years including controlled access at every school with a safety vestibule. The school safety division has worked with local law enforcement to have digital access to floor plans and surveillance systems. RCPS has increased the surveillance cameras on campuses and replaced older systems with updated technology. Training and safety drills have also been and will continue to be a focus of the school safety division.
The district and schools also promote “See or Hear Something, Say Something” among parents/guardians, students, and staff and encourage everyone to speak up.
For more information on school safety measures, visit www.rockdaleschools.org.