RICHMOND, Va. (CBSDC) – Gov. Bob McDonnell is not wasting any time ensuring school safety in Virginia in the aftermath of the horrific school shooting that took 26 lives in Connecticut on Friday.
McDonnell announced the launch of a school safety task force Monday that will review the best practices for school safety, and the needs and funding required to make sure Virginia’s schools – from elementary all the way up to the college level – are as safe as possible.
He asked Virginia Secretaries of Education and Public Safety to review recently submitted school safety audits with school superintendents to identify any changes in procedures or additional resources needed to “ensure that we are doing everything humanly possible to keep our children, young people and educators safe”.
This all comes in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 children between the ages of six and seven were killed, along with 6 adults, by a 20-year-old gunman who later took his own life.
The task force – comprised of educators, public safety experts, local leaders and legislators – has been established to review school safety throughout the state, including established policies and procedures, crisis and emergency management plans, threat assessment protocols, as well as to share best practices and identify resource challenges.
It will also be responsible for providing legislative and budget proposals to the governor to address any critical gaps or needs associated with safety and security in schools and on campuses.
Along with these changes, McDonnell created a new position within the Department of Criminal Justice Services – School and Campus Safety Coordinator – whose sole responsibility is to ensure school and campus safety.
McDonnell said he cannot imagine the grief experienced by those in Newtown as they mourn the loss of their innocent children.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the families impacted by this tragedy, and to the teachers, first responders, and all others touched by the events of last Friday,” Governor McDonnell said. “Unfortunately, Virginians have our own painful memories of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. Those memories will never fade, and our mourning of those losses continues.”
He added that while we all seek answers surrounding the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, it is necessary for him as governor to review Virginia’s own system for ensuring students’ safety; the reason he’s called upon a team of help in the form of a task force.
“As a parent whose daughter was locked down at Virginia Tech during the most recent shooting that took the life of Officer Deriek Crouse, I acutely understand the desire for parents to know that their child’s safety is the top priority at all educational institutions at every level.”