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Published on April 24, 2024
Texas Bolsters School Safety Measures Post-Uvalde Tragedy, Urges Parental Understanding of New ProtocolsSource: Google Street View

Following the horrific school shooting in Texas, the Lone Star State has tightened gun and school safety legislation with House Bill 3. This law, passed last year, requires every public school campus to station an armed security guard among other measures aimed at ramping up safety and mental health resources for students. The Texas Education Agency and the office of Attorney General Ken Paxton, in partnership with the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC), have updated the school safety guidelines since the 2022 Uvalde tragedy, a move described in a Texas Tribune report.

Nevertheless, concerns linger that parents and guardians are not fully versed in the nuanced aspects of these policies. As per a statement obtained by FOX San Antonio, Brian Clason, the training and education program manager for TxSSC, emphasized, "Your school leaders should know who you are, and you should know who they are," underlining the importance of familial involvement in safety protocols.

During emergencies, parents are advised not to immediately rush to their child's school, nor to contact them, as it could result in unnecessary confusion and additional danger. This guidance comes from the TxSSC's parent guide for school safety, stressing the importance of waiting for concise instructions from their child's school prior to taking action. Schools are mandated by the TEA to promptly notify parents or guardians by text, email, or app during a threat of violence.

In the event of an active shooter, the TxSSC advises parents to specifically avoid calling or texting their children, which could inadvertently increase the risk to those hiding. In response to recent legislative changes, school districts now have to follow new rules including employing an armed guard, installing a silent panic button in classrooms, and training selected staff to identify potential risks associated with student mental health or substance abuse, as per information published by The Texas Tribune. Schools also must give updated campus maps to law enforcement and contact parents and designated individuals when any incident of violence is being investigated or occurs on campus grounds.

To properly prepare students and staff for potential emergencies, Texas school districts and open-enrollment charter schools are required to carry out various drills throughout the academic year. These include lockdown, secure, evacuation, and shelter-in-place drills, according to both the FOX San Antonio and The Texas Tribune reports. With variations in drill frequency between districts, parents and guardians are encouraged to communicate with their child's school regarding security procedures.