Upstate Schools Ramp Up Security Over Summer -

Upstate Schools Ramp Up Security Over Summer

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Laurens School Dist. 55 has hired a deputy to patrol the halls of Ford and Waterloo Elementary Schools full-time. Laurens School Dist. 55 has hired a deputy to patrol the halls of Ford and Waterloo Elementary Schools full-time.

Students across the Upstate will notice new security measures when they go back to school next week.

Upstate schools scrambled to ramp up security this spring, in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

But now, they've had an entire summer to iron out their plans for keeping your kids safe.

Teachers and staff at Ford Elementary School in Laurens are gearing up for the new school year.

“The tide has gone out another year. Now the tide's bringing in new challenges. And we need to be ready to face those challenges and be the best that we can be for our children," said Ford Elementary Principal Dianne Simmons.

This year, the tide washed in a new full-time resource officer.

“We consider him part of our staff," said Simmons.

Laurens School District 55 decided to go above and beyond its original plans we told you about back in April.

It still plans to have a sheriff's office substation on campus to keep officers close. But, on top of that, the district has hired Deputy Walter Summers to patrol the halls of Ford and Waterloo Elementary Schools full-time.

Summers believes that consistent presence will be crucial.

“Because you get familiar with the kids, kids get familiar with you. They relate to you, instead of other officers rotating in and out," said Summers.

The new full-time officer isn't the only precaution Ford Elementary is taking this year. Security cameras line the outside of the building. Plus any visitors during the school day have to get buzzed in.

The Newtown school shooting isn't the only reason the district is making changes. Someone sent threatening letters to Laurens County schools at the end of last school year.

“Things like that did prompt a higher alert to the county as far as the potential for some type of violent act within our school system," said Laurens County Sheriff Ricky Chastain.

Simmons hopes these new measures will give parents some peace of mind.

“They're here to learn. They don't need to worry about not being safe. And I want them to feel comfortable leaving their children with us on a day-to-day basis," said Simmons.

Hiring the new resource officer cost Laurens School District 55 a little over $30,000.

We looked into what measures other school districts in the Upstate are taking to keep your kids safe this school year.

New this year in Greenville County, all middle and high school students will need to wear a photo ID badge at all times.

Spartanburg District 6 is hiring a full-time officer for each of its elementary schools.

Spartanburg District 5 added new lock systems to all its schools.

Anderson District 4 has installed a second set of locked doors at the main entrances to all their schools.

Anderson District 3 has hooked up security cameras at every entrance and key pads for main entrances.

Pickens County School District has added intercoms to the main entrances of any schools that did not already have them.

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