Monday was the first day of school for some students in our area including Hawkins County and emotions were high among some students.
We learned all faculty and staff will now be wearing photo ID badges so students know who they can go to for help, if needed.
Teachers at Volunteer High School are busy putting the final touches on their classrooms, but junior Madison Norris says this year is a little different. "Now they have kind of like a folder that tells you where to go and what to do if there was anything to happen like that and it does make it better," she said.
Teachers and students spent much of Monday going over new safety plans. It follows the arrest of two students who planned to carry out a mass shooting at the school. "It's just a small town in Tennessee you wouldn't think something like that would happen here," says Volunteer sophomore Mackenzie Tart.
Hawkins County Schools Superintendent Steve Starnes says they've been working closely with the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office to come up with security plans for all their schools.
Starnes says the biggest change is new universal procedures that were added to the students’ handbooks. "What students will be expected to do and what all our staff members should be expected to do. What they should know what's going to happen in certain situations,” Starnes said.
We learned Hawkins County Schools already have cameras and practice emergency drills every month.
Starnes says the system also has 11 school resource officers. "We have full time SROs at all our high schools, and then we have some split SROs that cover certain schools. Some of our elementary schools now have full time SROs," he said.
John Rose is president of Holston International Training Consulting and has extensive experience in active-shooting situations. He says SROs are a good start to securing a school. "In more than just crime prevention, but the reputation they build with students. It’s a great resource, however, there is no guarantee that's going to stop all crime," he said.
Now students like Madison says they are trying to put this behind them. "Everybody is trying to move from it and not talk about it and you know not act like it ever really happened," she said.
Superintendent Starnes the school can't stop anything they don't know about. That's why they encourage teachers, students, and parents to report any type of threat or suspicious behavior.