School Safety & Security Measures High Priority for WCPS

School Safety & Security Measures High Priority for WCPS

In light of the recent incidents involving school shootings across the United States, including Colorado, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, and heightened community interest in school security in the region, Washington County Public Schools (WCPS) is putting additional security measures in place to protect students and staff, sending letters by US mail to all students' homes to communicate with parents and guardians, and seeking the community's support and input.
"We have already been working toward improving security throughout WCPS, but we can do better," said Dr. Betty Morgan, Superintendent. "In the last several years, we have allocated more resources than ever before in this area, with over half a million dollars spent on specific security measures in the last two years alone."
Each school has a safety plan that is reviewed regularly, and the system has an emergency response team in place. Limited key-access systems, primarily in place where there are portable classrooms, and camera systems are in more than half of the county's public schools with plans to add more. WCPS will be adding key/camera/intercom systems to the main entrances of all schools in the coming months. In addition, the system is addressing the need for more staff and/or volunteers to provide coverage for monitoring entrances until these systems are in place.
"Since 1999, our school leaders have been expanding partnerships with law enforcement agencies and emergency services, and working with parents, students, and the community to raise awareness about the need for vigilance with regard to school safety," said Ed Forrest, president of the Washington County Board of Education. "We seek the community's assistance and support of these efforts."
This week, administrators have reminded principals in the Washington County schools about the importance of remaining on guard. Principals have been reviewing school safety plans and are working to ensure that all visitors are signing in and out of the building, securing visitors' badges, and entering and exiting from one main entrance, with other exterior doors remaining locked. WCPS officials have touched base with both the Hagerstown Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff's Department to discuss additional patrols around schools and have invited officers to stop in the main office when time allows to provide a visible presence when and where possible.