Ovaldi, May 30 (BUS): In the wake of the elementary school massacre in Ovaldi, Texas, schools across the United States have brought in more security personnel and restricted visitors as they deal with a new series of copycat threats.
For some families and teachers, all that anxiety has increased in the wake of the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School, the AP reports.
Jake Green, 34, of Los Alamos, New Mexico, was shocked to see a plainclothes police officer for the first time while taking his 7-year-old daughter to school Friday morning. He grew up in Colorado, not far from where two Columbine School students shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher in 1999. Green remembers attending memorial ceremonies and candlelight vigils as a fifth grader, but is torn about a police presence in His daughter’s school is the best.
“In a way, I don’t feel any safer with the police around,” Green said. “Seeing the police there, it made it seem like the worst possible possibility today.”
In El Paso, Texas, where a gunman killed 23 people in a 2019 racist attack targeting Hispanics at a Walmart, schools are on alert. The El Paso Independent School District has already faced some reported threats that have turned out to be false. They are either “joking students or over-sensitive parents,” said Gustavo Revels Acosta, a spokesman for the district.
“Our community is still dormant from that incident,” Acosta said. “It hits us in a very emotional way.”
The district, which has its own police department, has also ramped up patrols on all 85 campuses. Officers have been withdrawn from traffic control or other duties. Schools already have updated camera surveillance systems. Visitors are required to ring the doorbell and show their identity before they can enter.
The district is concerned with the mental health of teachers and students. An advisory team visited each school to talk about the Ovaldi shootings. They also urge people to talk privately about any distress.
The belief that the Ovaldi murders occurred in her home state was fanciful, said Mia Bowcome, a 15-year-old high school student in Fort Worth, Texas. It also sparked memories of her school closing two months ago due to a shooting.
“I’m more nervous about this because I’m just afraid of what if this happens at my school?” Baucom, whose last day of school was on Thursday, said. Suppose we get more police officers. It probably won’t stop people from going crazy and shooting schools.”
Schools have beefed up police presence in a handful of states, including Connecticut, Michigan and New York, after Tuesday’s shooting that killed 19 students and teachers.
In Buffalo, New York, where a white gunman shot and killed 10 people in a racist attack at a supermarket on May 14, the largest school district announced new security rules effective immediately. Any visitor – parents, siblings, and sellers – must call ahead for approval. No exceptions will be made. They may be subject to inspection by a stick detector. Doors will be locked at all times.
In Jacksonville, Florida, the Duval County Public Schools Police Chief banned backpacks or large handbags at any school through Friday, the last day of school. Small handbags are allowed but can be searched
An unreliable threat against a middle school prompted a Texas school 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Ovaldi to end the school year a week early. The Kingsville Independent School District has announced that Friday will be the last day of school. But students should not see any punishment for ending the year prematurely.
“In light of the tragedy in Ovaldi, there was a tremendous amount of stress and trauma. Unfortunately, more stress and trauma were added with ‘copy threats’ beginning to spread like those sent today to Gillette (middle school),” he wrote. Supervisor, Dr. Ceci Reynolds-Perez, said in a statement on the district’s website.
Staff and students across the country are clearly on guard as numerous reports of firearms sightings on campus have surfaced in the past few days.
Two Seattle-area schools were closed Friday morning, and police eventually recovered an airsoft rifle. Then the closure of Everett, Washington schools was lifted.
Two people were arrested Thursday after a Denver high school closed its campus. The police found a paintball gun, but no other firearms. Classes are canceled anyway.