One year after Mt. Tabor, school safety measures continue to be refined

W-S/FC Schools have implemented many new policies


Courtesy of EDNC

The shooting at Mt. Tabor High School last September raised questions about school safety.

Savannah Stremlow, Contributing Writer

Sept. 1 marked one year since a shooting at Mount Tabor High School resulted in one student being shot and later dying from injuries. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools has since implemented many updates and changes to their security practices, procedures and protocols. 

One of the major changes Winston-Salem/Forsyth-County Schools adopted was the Standard Response Protocol (SRP) from the I Love You Guys Foundation, an organization focused on implementing research-based safety practices in schools. The SRP is meant to standardize vocabulary and provide simple instructions depending on the situation. Examples of these protocols are found on the SRP website and are as follows:

  • “Hold” is followed by “Get Inside, Lock Doors” and is used when hallways need to be clear of people.
  • “Secure” is followed by “Get Inside, Lock Outside Doors” and is used to protect people within the building.
  • “Lockdown” is followed by “Locks, Lights, Out of Sight” and is used to secure individual rooms and keep people quiet and in place. 
  • “Evacuate” may be followed by a location and is used to move people from one location to another location. 
  • “Shelter” is followed by the Hazard and Safety Strategy and is used to protect people in the case of a hazard event. 

In addition to these instructional changes, all schools now have secure entrances and access controls. East Forsyth and West Forsyth High Schools are the latest to have the addition of keypads and secure entrances on all buildings. This requires students and staff to use badges or ID numbers to gain access into buildings. Camera upgrades are still in the process of being completed at all schools, but there are high-definition cameras at key locations in every school. 

Measures have also been put in place to increase security at school events. Across all schools, the clear bag policy is required at any large-scale event. The WS/FCS website states that “visitors will be prohibited from entering venues with camera cases, briefcases, backpacks, large purses, and similar items. Approved bags include clear, gallon-sized zip storage bags, clear totes (12”x 6”x 12”) and small purses.” 

In addition, there are two portable metal detectors at every middle and high school to be used at large events in addition to security wands. Schools do not plan to use these metal detectors every day for school entrance, but they can immediately be utilized if the school needs them. 

Forsyth County Public Schools plans to implement these safety practices and measures to ensure that their students, staff and parents feel safe on campus. Brent Campbell, the Chief of Communications & External Relations Officer, stated that “safety is our number one priority.” 

We continue to look at districts across the country as other methods of campus and school security are used,” Campbell said. “We are constantly reevaluating plans and procedures and are doing everything we can, in partnership with our school resource officer via the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the Kernersville Police Department to keep our schools safe.

As safety procedures and protocols are being adjusted and improved to protect students in Forsyth County, it is important to be mindful of the available services at your school. Wake Forest University Police was not available for comment, but here is a brief synopsis of the safety practices at Wake Forest University. 

One accessible tool is LiveSafe, a free mobile application that allows for Wake Forest students, staff and faculty to talk with University Police. In addition to direct access to police, it allows individuals to contact 911 emergency services, share their location with friends and family and receive information about additional resources and current climate of COVID-19. LiveSafe also provides contact between individuals and the University Shuttle, which is able to make after-hours trips to your location with a wait time of less than 15 minutes. 

Security officers are also located in numerous locations around campus—including Z. Smith Reynolds Library, the Wellbeing Center, the Worrell Professional Center, Farrell Hall and the LJVM Coliseum. These security officers are responsible for monitoring and reporting suspicious activity and assisting in visitors’ questions and concerns, in addition to location specific tasks.