Howard schools in midst of security assessment

Howard County Times

Following Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Florida high school, the leader of Howard County’s public schools released a statement reassuring parents of the school system’s commitment to security.

The statement did not include any mention of increased security measures or change in school protocol in response to the shooting and was issued after a Thursday morning staff meeting to discuss security matters.

All county high schools and six middle school have a school resource officer from the Howard County Police Department.

In the aftermath of the Florida shooting, Howard’s teachers weren't encouraged to do anything different with students in terms of assemblies or conversations, but spokesman Brian Bassett said staff had a "heightened sense of awareness" to refer students in need of help to student services staff.

Several counties in Maryland, and across the country, had extra officers at or near public schools on Thursday.

The 57,000-student school system established an Office of Safety and Security last year to optimize its security measures and communication across schools. It also includes a new director of security, emergency preparedness and response, Tom McNeal, who is conducting a district-wide security assessment.

“Tragic events prompt us to re-evaluate our practices, to ensure that we are indeed doing all that we can to secure the well-being of our students,” Superintendent Michael Martirano said in his statement.

Martirano encouraged students in need of assistance in the wake of the shooting to seek help from an adult in their building, and that each school’s student services team was prepared to help students and staff.

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