Gov. Bill Lee reveals enhanced safety measures for TN schools

Governor Bill Lee outlines new safety measure for Tennessee schools.
Governor Bill Lee outlines new safety measure for Tennessee schools.(WSMV)
Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 7:30 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2022 at 6:53 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - In the aftermath of the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, many school districts across the nation were forced to reevaluate the safety of their institutions.

Tennessee schools followed suit, and Governor Bill Lee announced what his administration has been working toward to ensure student safety on Tuesday.

Through a video message, Governor Lee introduced a several ways Tennessee schools and law enforcement are working to identify and address concerns before they materialize into tragedy.

The new actions fall into a three-pronged approach, which includes engaging parents and families, securing schools and training staff, and partnering with law enforcement who are trained in active school situations.

“Our administration has taken meaningful steps to further strengthen school safety in Tennessee by engaging parents, evaluating security measures and strengthening partnerships with law enforcement,” said Lee. “Nothing is more important than the safety of our children, and I thank Tennesseans for doing their part as we continue our coordinated effort to protect students and teachers across the state.”

According to the announcement, Executive Order 97 will:

Engage Parents

  • More than 10,000 Tennesseans are using the Safe TN app, a free resource to quickly and confidentially report safety concerns at a child’s school, with a record 2,000 downloads this month
  • Expanded School-Based Behavioral Health Liaisons to cover all 95 counties
  • Mobile crisis providers are available to families across the state and can be reached by dialing ‘988′

Secure Schools

  • Every Tennessee school has completed a physical school security assessment – a total of 1,838 schools • More than two-thirds of school districts – 104 districts – have participated in school safety training
  • Frequent, unannounced checks are being prioritized to see that school doors latch and precautions are in place
  • Every school district has received an updated School Safety Plan Template

Partner with Law Enforcement

  • State and local law enforcement have collaborated to provide proven, hands-on active shooter training courses in each Grand Division
  • Updated training has been provided to more than 600 School Resource Officers
  • Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers are building stronger relationships with local school leadership

For more on the Governor’s announcement and Executive Order 97, visit here.

Districts like Wilson County Schools have taken steps to keep its students safe. That includes school resource officers walking through the halls of every building and security cameras monitored around the clock.

“There are little nuances that we incorporate or add to, but the full scope of the plan hasn’t changed in some years,” Wilson County Schools spokesman Bart Barker said. “It is building upon the foundation that is already in place that’s been around for quite some time.”

Barker said the number of small changes they’ve made to the safety plans this year includes adding the Safe TN app for students and parents to report any issues and a focus on locking doors.

“All that is in our plan,” Barker said. “It is utilized and followed correctly to make sure our buildings are always safe. In the busiest times of a school year, or even in summertime when we have things going on in some of our buildings, but safety never takes a break with our district. It’s every day.”

Metro Schools expanded school resource officers to all grade levels this year. However, officers have only been patrolling the outside of elementary schools part time due to staffing shortages.

In Murfreesboro City Schools, leaders are working with students, staff and law enforcement to make sure everyone feels safe at school.

“Learning in a safe and healthy environment is a fundamental part of education,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “To accomplish this, all stakeholders must work together to ensure students and staff feel safe, welcome and empowered at schools. Our schools complete the physical school security assessment as well as safety drills together with our partners at the Murfreesboro Police Department. Safety training and drills are done methodically and led by our school resource officers and MCS safety team.”