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Oxford School District reviews school safety plan

The Oxford School District reviews its School Safety Plan each year, making changes and tweaks as necessary before presenting it to the Board of Trustees for its approval.

On Monday, athletic director Mike Martin presented the annual report to the Board, with thoughts of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida on their minds.

“We want the public to know we are doing everything we can to keep their children safe,” said Superintendent Brian Harvey. “Safety is something we’re all concerned about and something we are all paying attention to.”

A summary of the plan is available on the school’s district website; however, the full report is only available to school administrators and the Board of Trustees.

“We obviously don’t want all of our safety measures and security plans available to the general public,” Martin said.

The Board reviews and votes to approve the entire plan in detail during executive session.

There are currently a total of eight school resource officers in the Oxford School District. Each of the seven OSD schools has an assigned resource officer. Oxford High School has two resource officers, one of which is a supervisor.

“As of this week we became fully staffed,” Martin said.

School resource officers are armed city of Oxford police officers with offices at each school. Resource officers are responsible for conducting all school drills. There are 11 total fire drills each year, one per month. There are a total of two lock-down drills and two tornado drills, one each semester. These drills are documented for performance and corrections are made accordingly.

Resource officers and the safety director attend a one-week training conference in June of each year. “Changes to the safety plan are incorporated after attendance of this conference,” Martin said, who also serves as the school district’s safety director. “We learn about the newest technology and come back from that meeting and see what we need to change in our plan. We present those changes to principals and directors and then to the teachers before presenting it to the Board.”

The school resource officers train the school staff on procedures and changes during the in-service at the beginning of each year and again at mid-semester.

The Oxford School District recently hired an additional security officer that will aid daily in traffic at Oxford Elementary and Oxford High School. The security officer will also serve as a substitute at all seven OSD school locations when a school resource officer is absent, according to the report.

Harvey said the district’s goal is to make schools in the OSD a “hard target.”

“Something we have to harp on constantly is telling students that if someone comes to a side door, do not let them in … and to not keep doors propped open,” Harvey said.

Harvey said it’s just as important to look inside the school and at its students when protecting the district.

“We need to educate students to watch out for each other,” he said. “If you see someone sitting by themselves, go talk to them. Counselors need to be aware of what’s going on with each student. We need to work both angles – inside and outside of our school.”

Oxford Police Chief Joey East said there are no standards in Mississippi when it comes to tracking threats at local schools.

“We gather data on local crime but not on threats made to schools,” he said. “So we don’t know what’s going on at other schools to watch for trends here,” he said. “When a school is built, there are fire alarms and sprinklers put into the school. A fire investigator by law has to come out to inspect the school for safety. When was the last time a school burned down with children inside? But when a school is built, I wasn’t asked to come here and look at security measures. There needs to be standards across the state, and those are conversations that need to happen statewide.”

Harvey said there would be an active shooter training at Oxford High School on May 29 that will involve students, local law enforcement agencies, medical personnel, the hospital, fire departments and other first responders.