Newport News School District Introduces New Safety Plan and Back-to-School Goals

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Newport News Public Schools have come up with a new plan to keep students and staff safe at school.

It’s been just over two weeks since a 15-year-old reportedly brought a gun to Heritage High School, had an argument with another student and ended up shooting, injuring two students.

Students at Heritage High and Huntington Middle Schools have practically learned since the incident.

On Tuesday, the Newport News School Board called a special meeting to listen to a presentation from school administrators on the district’s revised safety and reintegration plans.

District leaders presented a layered security approach that uses a variety of tactics and protective measures to keep students and staff safe on campus.

The Newport News school board will review the safety plan in two weeks and vote on whether or not to implement it.

The revised safety plan provides for six school safety officers at Heritage High, one at Huntington Middle School and a dedicated school resources manager for both schools, as well as ORS assigned to all high schools in the district.

Constant security concerns were identified on September 20 when the shooting took place, as one of Heritage High’s four security guards was not in the building at the time of the shooting and the school’s only SRO was at An Achievable Dream on a shared mission.

School leaders also detailed a plan to include more random checks of metal detectors and security scans. Superintendent Dr George Parker responded to board members’ questions about permanent metal detectors, saying they would not be achievable in the long term as it would take too long outside of the school day to constantly check for students. He said it would affect their morale as well. District leaders explained that increasing random projections would be just as deterrent.

When it comes to a reintegration plan for Heritage and Huntington students, the district has a five-phase approach to making sure everyone has the resources they need. There is no fixed date for reintroducing students and teachers into the building. Tips for students and staff as well as on-the-go resources will be available indefinitely.

School board member John Eley told 10 On Your Side he feels optimistic after reviewing the new plan.

“I think it’s a great plan, I think the school division, I think the superintendent all came together to listen to the community,” Eley said.

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