Elementary School in South Charleston, WV highlight security pr - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Elementary School in South Charleston, WV highlight security procedure upgrades

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Saturday marks one year since 20 year old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and 6 adults in Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT. He then turned the gun on himself before first responders arrived.

The event sparked a nationwide focus on school safety.

At Ruthlawn Elementary Friday, students and teachers were dressed up in Christmas themed clothing and celebrating projects they have completed to mark the holiday season. But even while they have fun, school safety is top of mind.

Principal Natalie Laliberty said in the last year there have been many changes when it comes to safety procedures at the school.

"We are supposed to ask for their license and they insert it in a device outside the door," Laliberty explained. "Then the picture pops up and if there is something related to them personally on their license then we have the option of them not coming in."

The license information is put into a database that checks for outstanding warrants and other criminal history.

There is another level of security after individuals get past the front doors.

Each classroom door remains locked throughout the day. Only recognized students and staff can enter.

"They just knock on the door and every day there is a different student who is in charge of getting up and opening the door if they know it is their classmate or a staff person," Laliberty said.

There is a key hidden on the inside of the classroom near the door so that teachers can quietly lock it from the inside. The key for the outside lock on each classroom door is different than the lock on the inside of the classroom door.

Some parents said they are happy with the changes.

"I really appreciate the fact that we have to buzz in and show our license before we can enter the building," said parent Brandi Kidd Jamerson. "Although it can be an inconvenience at times, I'm more than willing to put up with a little inconvenience for increased safety."

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin has been at the forefront of the statewide effort to make schools safer.Friday he discussed a pilot program happening at Mary C. Snow Elementary and Piedmont Elementary in Charleston,WV. Local law enforcement agencies work with the schools to let them know when they encounter children in homes where they are responding to calls. They submit what are called "Handle with Care" notices. The notices let teachers know that certain students may be dealing with extra challenges at home.

"School safety is so much more than just the physical security of the school," Goodwin said. "The child needs to feel like they are safe in order to learn effectively."

Goodwin said other schools are already asking about the program.

He said overall there have been major improvements in school safety statewide.

To read more about the Safe Schools Plan follow the link provided.

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