After the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, schools across the U.S. have added more security staff and limited who can visit as they deal with copycat threats.
A sense of dread has settled over many communities and schools in the wake of the most horrific school massacre since Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
While walking his 7-year-old daughter to school on Friday morning, Jake Green, 34, of Los Alamos, New Mexico, was startled when he noticed a plainclothes police officer for the first time. A short distance from where two high school students opened fire on a group of his peers and a teacher at Columbine High School in 1999, he was raised in Colorado. On the other hand, Green has vivid memories of attending memorials and candlelight services in fifth grade, but he isn’t sure whether having police at his daughter’s school is the right course of action.
It doesn’t help that the cops are there, Green added. “I don’t really feel any safer.” Today, seeing the police made the worst-case scenario seem much more likely.”
Schools in El Paso, Texas, where a racist 2019 attack on a Hispanic-targeted Walmart left 23 people dead, are on high alert. Threats that turned out to be unfounded have already been encountered by the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD). School spokesperson Gustavo Reveles Acosta claimed that either “kids joking or overly sensitive parents” could be to blame.
“The wounds from that event are still fresh in our community,” Acosta said. “It makes us feel pretty sad about it.”
The district has its own police force and has also increased patrols at all of its 85 campuses. Officers have been taken away from tasks like watching traffic or doing other things. Updated camera surveillance systems are already in place in schools. Before they can get in, visitors have to ring a doorbell and show their ID.
The district is paying attention to the mental health of both teachers and students. A group of counsellors has been going to every school to talk about what happened in Uvalde. They are also telling people that if they are upset, they should talk to someone alone.
Mia Baucom, a 15-year-old high school student in Forth Worth, Texas, said it was hard to believe that the killings in Uvalde happened in her home state. It also made her think back to two months ago, when a shooting at her school led to a lockdown.
Baucom, whose last day of school was Thursday, said, “I’m a little more worried about it because what if it happened at my school?” “Let’s say the police force grows. Most likely, that won’t stop crazy people from just shooting up schools.”
After the shooting on Tuesday, which killed 19 students and two teachers, schools in many states, including Connecticut, Michigan, and New York, have put more police in schools.
In Buffalo, New York, on May 14, a white gunman killed 10 people in a racist attack in a grocery store. The city’s largest school district has just announced new security rules that go into effect right away. Any visitor, whether it’s a parent, a sibling, or a vendor, has to call ahead to get permission. No one will be let off the hook. A wand detector may be used to look through them. Doors will always be locked.
In Jacksonville, Florida, the chief of school police for Duval County Public Schools said that backpacks and large handbags are not allowed in any school until Friday, which is the last day of school. People could bring small purses, but they could be searched.
A school district in Texas 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Uvalde ended the school year a week early because of a false threat against a middle school. The Kingsville Independent School District said that the last day of school would be Friday. But students shouldn’t have to pay for the school year ending early.
“There has been a lot of stress and trauma because of what happened in Uvalde. “Unfortunately, ‘copy-cat threats’ like the one sent to Gillett Middle School today add more stress and trauma,” Superintendent Dr. Cissy Reynolds-Perez said in a statement on the district’s website.
Reports of guns being seen on campuses in the last few days show that staff and students all over the country are on edge.
Two schools in the Seattle area went into lockdown on Friday morning, and police found an airsoft gun. The schools in Everett, Washington, were then let out of lockdown.
Thursday, after a Denver high school locked down, two people were taken into custody. A paintball gun was found, but no other guns. Even so, classes were still cancelled.