NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. — When students are in schools, their families expect them to be safe.
That’s why in New Hanover County Schools, new safety protocols are being implemented this school year.
Last year, threats were made to schools across the state, which resulted in multiple lockdowns.
HCS officials say that those threats didn’t inspire these new protocols, but that they’re always trying to improve the ways in which they can ensure students’ safety.
Safety is Chuck Silverstein’s No. 1 priority.
“In today’s world, there’s always threats out there,” Silverstein said. “Our job is to make it sure that we are as safe as possible.”
After a successful career in law enforcement, he was hired as the executive director of safety for NHCS. Once in place, he said he immediately looked into how safety protocols could be improved.
“So in the past, we really only had two protocols,” Silverstein said. “One was a shelter in place, and one was a lockdown, and everything had to kind of fit into those two categories.”
Starting this school year, however, there are new safety protocols in place so that different situations and threats can be responded to more specifically.
“Shelter in place was kind of the catch-all, but it wasn’t designed for that, it was designed to secure the schools from something outside getting into the school,” Silverstein explained. “So by adding these other protocols, it gives the schools more options to deal with different situations.”
Students, parents and educators should understand these new protocols.
The hold response keeps students in their room or area so that no one is in the hallway.
Secure locks the outside doors to safeguard people in the building.
A lockdown will keep doors locked, lights out and everyone inside hidden.
Evacuate moves people out of the building to a safe location.
Finally, the warning will move students to a designated area in the school so they can take shelter.
Knowing these protocols will help students and parents have a better understanding of what kind of threat the school may be facing.
“I’m a parent, and I want my kids to go to school and worry about things in school. I want them to worry about getting a good education. I want them to worry about making good friendships. I want them to worry about getting into clubs, sports, whatever it is,” Silverstein said. “I don’t want students to walk in the door and feel, ‘I have to worry about my safety today.’”
These protocols were created by the “I Love U Guys” Foundation and have been implemented in 30,000 schools across the country. Silverstein said schools will continuously be on the lookout for ways to continue to make schools even safer.
Other schools across the state have unique action plans created in collaboration with local law enforcement offices to be used in case of emergency. Make sure to check with your local school district about their safety protocols.