Laurel, East Bernstadt feel schools are safe

·2 min read

Jun. 1—The deadly shootings at a Texas elementary school came just two days before Laurel County students began their summer vacation, but still raised concerns regarding the safety of school children in this area.

Laurel County Superintendent Dr. Doug Bennett said he believes Laurel County schools are as safe as can be made possible.

"We have vestibules that are locked until someone in the office admits you inside the school," Bennett said. "All the doors on the inside are locked so no one from the outside can get in."

Bennett said the process to ensure school safety began several years ago and continues to be one of the best in the state of Kentucky.

"We have trained LEOSA officers — retired law enforcement officers from all different agencies," he said. "These are people who are trained and know how to respond in an emergency. We have officers at every school and it's been proven that the presence of officers at schools has been effective in those situations."

Another feature of school safety is having window coverings and/or blinds in classrooms, cafeterias and offices.

"That way no one can see inside from the outside," Bennett added.

Many of those same policies are present at East Bernstadt Independent School. During last week's board meeting, Superintendent Vicki Jones outlined some of the safety measures at that school.

Jones said entrances were locked throughout the day and that any entry point in the school featured a secured area where visitors had to be admitted by school personnel. She added that all doors in the school are locked, keeping anyone from entering from the outside.

Kentucky education officials were quick to advocate for safer schools after several school shootings occurred in other parts of the country.

In Kentucky, the 2018 shooting at Marshall County High School was considered the deadliest school shooting in the state since 1997. The Marshall County death toll was two dead and 18 injured. The 1997 shooting at Heath High School in West Paducah took the lives of three people with five injured. Another school-related shooting in Kentucky took place in 2013 when a man killed his girlfriend, her uncle and her 12-year-old cousin in a parking lot of Hazard Community College in Hazard.