Greenville Co. superintendent talks safety at school, athletic events

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GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – Thousands of students went back to school on Monday and we’ve been asking the public for questions they have for school leaders.

Safety has been a big one for many parents.

Sibila Vargas sat down with the superintendent of Greenville County Schools Dr. Burke Royster to ask some of your questions:

Sibila: A lot of our Facebook followers have asked about security. I think that’s foremost in people’s minds. How are you addressing that? Do you feel confident that the schools are secure?

Royster: We feel very confident that we have appropriately addressed security using what people would consider industry best practices. In fact, we believe we are on the forefront on that.

Sibila: I know that Parkland, Florida just came up with a plan where they have locks inside the doors. Would you consider doing something like that?

Royster: Our standing procedure is your classroom door remains locked.

Sibila: So you can lock them from the inside?

Royster: And the ones you can’t lock from the inside, our requirement is that they remain locked throughout the day.

Sibila: As you know, Dorman and Byrnes now require metal detectors, so if you’re going into a football game, you’ve got to go through screening. Would you consider something like that?

Royster: We consider those kinds of things. We do, on occasion, random metal detector tests and we primarily have done those at athletic events when we had some reason to believe there might be an issue or a problem. This year you may know we went to a clear bag policy at our athletic venues.

Sibila: What would be the downside though?

Royster: The downside is not just the time, not just the investment in personnel, but every time TSA tests their own processes to do that, they’re able to in a high percentage of times, for weapons to be slipped through. We walk a very fine line between what is a great level of security and what creates a prison-like atmosphere that may have the opposite effect in making students feel less secure.

Royster told us that Greenville County Schools have tightened up physical barriers over the summer in what they call capture areas inside the school.

Those are containment spaces where students and teachers stay until they’re cleared to go back in the building with staff.

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