While safety procedures, secure entrances, and school resource officers cannot guarantee a tragedy similar to the one at Robb Elementary will never happen in Cambridge, precautions are in place and drills are practiced to give students and staff the tools and expertise to fend off an attack and protect themselves.
Each building in the school district is secured with automatically locking doors that can only be opened from the outside by a key or a key card. Staff members use their key cards/ID badges to swipe into the buildings.
Those without access, have to ring the doorbell at the main entrance of the school to be “buzzed in” by staff members. Visitors are viewed by staff members on video feeds and can communicate with staff members. The video feed is saved for several days in case there is a need to review who was at the door. Video is recorded 24-7 every day.
Keeping intruders out of the building is the first line of defense. The second line of defense is to keep intruders out of classrooms.
Classroom doors have locks and have been fitted with door barricades, rigid plastic devices that slide over the bottom of the doors and secured by pins that slide into the holes in the floor.
Approximately two years ago, the district purchased a two-way radio system that enables staff members at each building to talk to each other and to the police department without the use of landlines or cellular phones. They also have a silent signal that can be used to contact law enforcement in an emergency.
Approximately 100 radios were purchased. All buses and maintenance vehicles now have a radio in addition to the transportation office, the secretaries in each building, the principals, and other staff members.
The communication system was purchased with school safety grant funds and money from the district’s permanent improvement fund.
While technology can provide tools that help protect children, the presence of law enforcement can be a deterrent and provide a level of leadership in a crisis situation.
At the beginning of last school year, Cambridge schools added a second school resource officer (SRO).
The city obtained a Community Oriented Policing Services or COPS Hiring Program grant that provided them with the funding to hire and assign two police officers to Cambridge schools.
Officer Ben Harper was assigned to the school district in 2021. Harper, a product of the Cambridge School District, joins Ryan Oliver who has been assigned to Cambridge schools for several years.
Harper is based at the middle school while Oliver is at the high school. Both officers visit the other buildings in the school district.
Every district in Ohio is required to develop a detailed school safety plan with the cooperation of local law enforcement and other safety agencies.
The goals of a school safety plan are to make sure staff members and members of responding organizations know their responsibilities in advance of a crisis and are comfortable working together.
In June 2022, Ohio implemented a law making it easier for school employees to complete training that would enable them to carry firearms in school. In the past, school districts had the ability to decide if they wanted to arm employees and many districts, including Cambridge, did so.
When a court ruling in 2019 required those employees to complete close to 700 hours of firearm training to be legally allowed to carry firearms in school buildings, Cambridge was forced to stop the safety practice.
The new law significantly lowers the amount of training needed and still allows local school boards and school districts to decide if they want to allow staff to carry firearms and how much training will be required.
The district also need parents and students to participate in protecting their students. We ask that if you see something that does not look appropriate or concerns you, contact the building principal or your child’s teacher to share that information as soon as possible. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Submitted by Cambridge City School District
This article originally appeared on The Daily Jeffersonian: City school district has various safety measures in place to protect students, staff