Educators refining school safety plans

Published 1:36 am Friday, August 3, 2018

Tabletop exercises with first responders help prepare

“If you get a call about an active shooter right here in the media room, what happens?”

Andalusia City Schools administrators spent time Thursday with members of the Andalusia Police Department, Andalusia Fire Department, Covington County Sheriff’s Department, Covington County EMA, and facilitators from nSide School Safety Systems, a security company working with school systems across the state, working through exactly what each would do in the event they got that dreaded notification.

Lamar Davis of nSide explained that the company is providing cloud-based access to maps of the school, weather radar, and eventually images from school security cameras to help administrators and first responders react efficiently to any emergency. The state has made $141 million available to provide school resource officers and improve security across the state.

Thursday afternoon, they walked through the scenario at Andalusia High School. Earlier in the day, they completed the exercise at Andalusia Elementary.

Those gathered talked through what happens when the school goes on lockdown.

The thinking these days is simplicity, Davis said, as opposed to codes used in the past. Doing so makes it easier to protect visitors who might be in the building.

Superintendent Ted Watson said the school system once had a code for lockdown. “We’d announce ‘Oscar Zeannah is in the building,’ ” he said. “Now we just say, ‘Lockdown.’ ”


In addition, nSide’s software includes pre-written warnings and instructions for a number of different emergencies which could be sent from a phone in the event of a dangerous situation.

The planning also includes determining a staging area to which students would be moved once law enforcement officers were able to secure the premises and set up a reunification site for parents. For AHS and AJHS, that site will be First Baptist Church. The site for Andalusia Elementary School is still being determined.

Software systems being installed this year will give teachers access to student rosters from their phones, Watson said. This database would be used to check students out from a reunification site.

Davis said his company is helping rewrite 500-page safety manuals required by the state with different solutions for dozens of scenarios.

“Now we have four reactions,” he said. “We shelter in place, evacuate, secure the perimeter or go on lockdown.”

Davis said he will be working with other area schools in the near future.