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Westmoreland County Schools well prepared for crisis

Westmoreland County parents and students have expressed safety concerns as a result of the horrific shooting crisis in Newtown, Connecticut that took 28 lives on Friday. County school officials have reassured that county schools are well prepared to deal with any developing emergency.


“We’ve been meeting this year to talk about concerns,” said Washington & Lee High School Principal Andrea Roane. “All of us work consistently with the Crisis Management Team to endure the safety of our students.”
W&L High School, Montross Middle School, Cople Elementary School and Washington District Elementary School are covered under a crisis management plan developed by the county school system that details specific responses by teachers, administrators, students and emergency personnel in the event of an incident.
“This is our obligation,” Roane said. “When people send their children to us it is our responsibility to make sure they are safe. Sometimes people think our role is instruction alone, but safety and security is also our obligation.”

The Crisis Management Team has developed color codes for potential situations ranging from a general emergency, to a fire, to a bomb threat or to something serious enough to require a lockdown of the schools.

The “Lock-In Drill,” which would be required in the event of an intruder on one of the school campuses, is Code Blue. In the event of a Code Blue, students outside the school building are directed to take cover away from the school building and students in the building are to be moved to the most secure area of their classrooms.

While emergency personnel are being notified, the threatened school is locked down with no one allowed in the building or in the hallways. Nurses are available to aid injured persons and provide emergency medical information and students are told to stay in their classrooms while the building is secured and law enforcement authorities arrive on the scene.

County Administrator Norm Risavi said the county has an Emergency Services Operations Plan, which would kick in in the event of an emergency call from school authorities. “We have a mutual aid agreement with the Virginia State Police and agreements with other Virginia localities that would be implemented as our emergency personnel respond to a school emergency,” Risavi said.

 

Richard Leggitt

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