OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Keeping students and staff safe is a top priority for the Ocean Springs School District.
Director of Operations, Brooks McKay, says over the past few years, the district has put a huge focus on safety. And this year, they’re taking it a step further to fall in line with the state’s new school safety law, which requires active shooter drills for staff as well as students.
“We got with our campus police department and our administrators to kind of design how we want to do it and how we think it best suits Ocean Springs to make sure that our students respond appropriately to that setting," said McKay, "cause kindergartners are going to respond separately than a senior in high school might in a traumatic event like that.”
The district has also spent more than a million dollars on physical safety feature, like new safety foyers at every school campus. It serves as one of the first lines of defense, requiring visitors to use a call box to talk to the receptionist to be buzzed into the safety foyer. Once inside, the receptionist can determine whether to let the visitor go any further.
“We feel strong for our children’s safety that we treat our visitors kindly, but in such a manner so they’re not getting free access to our entire building," said McKay.
Students and all school employees will be required to have ID badges to access the campus. Students will also use those ID badges to get on the bus, as well as for class attendance.
The million dollar upgrades also include these Citizen Aid Stations, installed in every classroom and bus to use during a school shooting.
“If that unfortunate situation ever happened, we would have the things that we need to stop the bleeding and hopefully save lives," said McKay.
McKay says the changes are all to create a safe environment, so students can focus on learning.
“Parents expect they get their kids back the way that they sent them to us in the morning, and we return them. And so, safety’s first,” he explained.
Students return to school August 7.