BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio & Marshall County, W. Va. (WTRF)
In the Ohio Valley, school officials have learned by experience that anything can—and does—happen, and being prepared is vital.
There was a bomb threat last year at Bridgeport Schools.
Students were told over the P.A. system to evacuate.
Teachers were stunned when kids in the lunchroom continued to eat, and nobody left.
“None of those kids in the lunchroom heard the announcement,” said Brent Ripley, Bridgeport Schools superintendent. “They were chewing, they were talking to friends, having a good time and taking a break from learning. They didn’t hear it.”
They realized some rooms in schools are noisy by nature.
“We have high volume areas, especially in our band room when students are playing their musical instruments,” said Lisa Clark, technology director. “And when students are at lunch in the cafetorium.”
So they got a $50,000 state grant to update their ability to alert everyone.
“We’re going to increase output in some of our speakers in the band and choir rooms, maybe the small gym,” said Ripley. “And install some LED displays in the cafetorium. Kids will be able to see that announcement when it comes, and there might be some flashing lights.”
In Marshall County, school officials say not all threats involve bombs or active shooters.
There are domestic violence incidents that happen near schools.
“That has happened in Marshall County a few times,” said Shey McGuire, Marshall County Schools safety coordinator. “And it all comes down to communication with law enforcement.”
He said they lock down the school until the incident is over.
Environmental issues also cause safety risks.
Washington Lands School is near the Ohio River.
“An accident with a barge could cause problems with air quality,” McGuire noted.
So they are creating a self-contained HVAC system in the new auditorium, sealed off from outside air.
Cameron High School is not far from fracking well pads.
“There could be any number of problems with that,” he said. “Explosions on the gas pad, which have happened in the recent past.”
So they have plans in place.