K-12 school districts and institutions of higher education continue to invest in a wide range of security and safety technologies.
In Atlanta, Georgia, four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Atlanta — Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, and the Atlanta University Center Consortium – are in the process of upgrading security on campus.
Those improvements include unified alert systems, better lighting, and adding speed bumps, reports 11Alive. Morehouse is also updating its call boxes and adding 10 new officers. Morehouse College PD Chief Charles Prescott said his department has already added license plate readers and 17 new officers.
The upgrades at the HBCUs were partially prompted by the shooting of a Clark Atlanta University student in February, but it’s not just institutions of higher education that are responding to the recent rise in gun violence with increased investments in security technology. Many K-12 school districts are now investing in weapons detection systems.
In Texas, Garrett multi-zone metal detectors have been added to 31 schools in the Laredo Independent School District (LISD). These machines have been added to all elementary, middle, and high school campuses as part of LISD’s proactive approach to school security.
The detectors being deployed can be programmed to detect not only guns and similar threat objects, but also the knives and vape pens that some other mass screening technologies with low detection capabilities fail to find.
“We are taking action, so there’s a lot of investment on behalf of our school district, not only with purchasing the equipment, but with the training as well,” said Oscar Perez, Executive Director of Health and Safety for LISD.
In Maryland, Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) have selected Omnilert’s Gun Detect active shooter solution to monitor external cameras throughout CCPS campuses. CCPS has already begun installing the system with outside building cameras and plans to have it activated systemwide by the end of the current school year.
“This technology provides real-time detection and advance warning before a situation occurs, which provides our school officials with valuable time to react to a possible safety threat,” said Jason Stoddard, CCPS director of school safety and security.
HVAC systems at schools across the country are also getting some much needed attention, thanks to grants provided by the federal government.
For example, in North Carolina, Rockingham County Schools, allocated $12 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding towards addressing HVAC deferred maintenance. In a two-phased approach, Johnson Controls replaced and installed heat pumps at select schools as well as upgraded the district-wide Metasys digital controls.
“The federal funding made available to school districts is a one-time opportunity, so it’s critical that K-12 leaders take the time to maximize these dollars to the fullest,” said Erselle Young, assistant superintendent of operations and logistics at Rockingham County Schools.