Studies Prompt Fluvanna County Schools to Patch Security Holes

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There are safety holes in Fluvanna County Public Schools' security systems, according to a new review prompted in part by the school shootings in Connecticut and Colorado. Now, the challenge becomes fixing the problems and paying for the upgrades.

The Fluvanna County Sheriff's Office took an up-close look at every school in the county. It examined everything from the layout of the buildings to entrance ways and lighting.

When entering the main doors of some Fluvanna County schools, visitors are greeted by a lobby or a hallway leading to classrooms. Fluvanna County Schools Superintendent Gena Keller says the entrance designs - mostly in the older schools - may soon change following the vulnerability study done by the Sheriff's Office.  Keller says school administration wants visitors to be detoured directly to the main office - away from students.

The school system also performed a separate safety study that looked at internal matters.

"We looked at things within the building itself, the movement of children through hallways, are the doors able to be locked? In an intruder lockdown are we able to secure children in safe spaces?" said Keller.

Keller says the Sheriff's Office brought attention to the size of shrubs outside of buildings.

"That's just one of the things we look at to make sure people have good views," said Frank Leech, student services director.

Keller says the internal study looked at building capacity. It was a way to find out if each school had enough classroom space to keep students and staff safe during an emergency. She says the best safety effort is a trained staff, and assures Fluvanna County students are in good hands.

"The best efforts can be when adults make good relationships with children, students have a trusted adult that they can go to when there's maybe issues or concerns," said Keller.

The school system is currently in the process of applying for a grant through the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. It would allow for each school to have a school resource officer on duty.

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