McDuffie County school leaders explain new safety efforts

Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 6:37 PM EDT
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THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A 14-year-old was shot last week in Thomson on Second Street.

The next day, Thomson High School added a new policy at football games: Anyone under 16 must be with an adult, and students must be in their seats unless heading to the restroom or the concession stand.

Aiken County also put new security measures in place at their games requiring everyone to use clear bags when bringing items to games.

We checked in with McDuffie County school officials to learn more about their plans to keep everyone safe in schools and at events.

District officials say they have multiple safety features in place to keep students safe inside the schools. This new policy aims to keep everyone, not just students and staff, safe outside the school buildings while at school activities.

“Safety is our top priority,” said Superintendent Dr. Mychele Rhodes.

The crisis alert system allows them to contact law enforcement in case of an emergency in a matter of seconds, but that’s not their only safety measure inside the buildings.

“Each of our faculty and staff members wear a badge. They can indicate if they have an emergency in their classroom, we can also lock down our school within five seconds,” she said.

But these are not new.

“We have been doing those for three years, even before some of the things we are seeing now,” she said.

What is new is the policy that aims to keep people safe outside of school walls while at football games.

“We did make the decision to request that students under the age of 16 be in attendance with an adult,” said Rhodes. “It is a safety issue when there are a number of younger people in one area.”

It expands beyond gun violence or other threats schools may face. This one is in place in case of inclement weather or a medical emergency.

“Our ultimate goal is we want everyone in attendance at The Brickyard to be safe, and it be an orderly environment,” she said