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Texas safety officials will conduct random intruder drills in public schools this fall as part of the state’s response plan to the Uvalde massacre that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
Public schools throughout the state will undergo unannounced tests for weak entry points that active shooters could potentially exploit. The Texas School Safety Center plans to subject all school districts and 75 percent of campuses to these “random intruder detection audits” by the end of the school year, the Texas Tribune reported.
“Your team should begin conducting in-person, unannounced, random intruder detection audits on school districts,” Governor Greg Abbott wrote in a letter to the center last month ordering the safety checks. “Staff should approach campuses to find weak points and how quickly they can penetrate buildings without being stopped.”
At a quarterly meeting in June, Kathy Martinez-Prather, the center’s executive director, assured a group of school safety officials appointed by Abbott that the tests would not be “simulation intruder assessments” that would involve creating a potentially traumatic or triggering situation for students and staff.
“[It will be like] you and me going out there, just like a normal parent would, and ensuring that school districts keep external threats out,” she said, the Texas Tribune noted.
The local police, but not the specific school, will be notified when the test is to be conducted, she added.
Martinez-Prather told the Texas Tribune that the center has secured millions of dollars in funding to train specialists to perform the audits. The center alerted school districts that they will be made aware of any vulnerabilities in the school security and infrastructure to fix following the reviews.
Abbott’s administration has spearheaded a number of initiatives to improve school safety after the Uvalde tragedy, in which a gunman stormed an elementary school and killed 19 fourth-graders and two teachers, wounding 17 others as well, with an AR-15-style rifle.
In early June, Abbott directed the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University to provide active-shooter training to all K–12 public-school districts in the state.
“I direct that you deploy your nationally recognized active shooter training to all Texas school districts, prioritizing school-based law enforcement,” Abbott wrote to executive director Pete Blair.