Lock-down drills a common safety precaution at Yadkin schools

By Kitsey Burns Harrison - kburns@yadkinripple.com

In light of yet another school shooting, local law enforcement is doing what it can to protect children in the area.

“One of our most important duties as a law enforcement officer is to keep our students as safe as possible,” said Yadkinville Police Chief Tim Parks last week, following news of a deadly massacre at a Florida high school. “We have officers that are assigned to routinely patrol Yadkinville Elementary and the Success Academy. We stay in contact with school staff and work together to solve issues that arise, just recently we put extra officers at each school after the tragic shooting in Florida.

“We can never guarantee complete safety, but we will continue to work with school officials and other agencies to make our schools as secure as possible,” Parks added.

Yadkin County Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Martin said staff members routinely evaluate safety procedures at all of the area schools. In addition to routine fire drills, school children from elementary school to high school also participate in lock-down drills during the school year.

Martin said there are a number of reasons that a school might be put on lock down, not just the threat of a violent event happening on the school property. East Bend Elementary School was recently put on a modified lock down as Yadkin County Sheriff’s deputies were searching for a suspect in East Bend.

Living in a rural area, lock downs might not involve a human threat at all, Martin said. Students have been sequestered inside school buildings if there is an animal spotted on school property behaving strangely that could potentially have rabies.

In regard to school shootings, Martin said, “We hope that something like that would never happen here but at the same time, anymore, we can’t say that it won’t so we do practice those drills and that’s true for every school in our district.

“We do it as a precautionary measure,” Martin said. “We have to practice these things multiple times a year.”

Yadkin County schools have had their share of lock downs, but luckily most do not involve a direct threat to students on campus.

“Thank God, most of the time it doesn’t involve someone on campus to do harm. Most of the time it involves a situation or an issue that doesn’t necessarily involve the school, but the person could come on the campus because of the proximity.”

Martin said they work closely with the local law enforcement as well and he praised their work in keeping area schools safe.

“The sheriff’s department and Boonville, Jonesville, East Bend and Yadkinville police departments do a great job patrolling the areas around the schools, stopping by the schools on a daily basis just to make sure that things are OK. Even though they aren’t assigned there all the time, there is a police presence,” Martin said.

“We are continually working on our school safety, not just when have school shootings,” said Yadkin County Sheriff Ricky Oliver. “We are constantly looking at ways to improve how we do business in our schools as far as safety.”

Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.

By Kitsey Burns Harrison