Building a safer school: Brunswick's new high school

BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- In just a few weeks 1,800 students will be filling the halls of the new Brunswick High School in Glynn County. More important than its structural beauty though is its safety.

Glynn County Schools Chief of Police Rod Ellis gave FCN a tour. There are 207 cameras and all outside doors can be auto locked or unlocked by the principal. Though the technology is a great improvement, Ellis says the greatest asset is the people inside.

"Nothing beats a trained observer," tells Chief Ellis.

There will be one sworn officer with a gun in this school at all times and the staff has all been trained on what to do in various emergencies.

Also, one of the important things with the design of the new school is line of sight. It is very open so anyone in the hall can look and see if there is someone who should not be there or if a student is out of class.

Of course the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary is not far from Ellis' mind.

"Virtually every school district in the nation sat down and said what are we doing right, what are we doing wrong, how can we keep this from happening," tells Chief Ellis.

He said the safest place for students is behind a locked door which is why classrooms are kept locked. During school hours, there is only one door visitors can come in and they will have to be buzzed through by a staff member and wait in a specific "visitor waiting room".

Ellis says parents have to make sure they have given a good phone number to the district. If there is an emergency, robo-calls are often the way parents are alerted.

"The worst thing you can do is show up at that school," tells Chief Ellis,"You can't let your emotions get in the way of the rescue mission taking place there."

While he will continue to oversee drills at the school, he does not want any child to ever be afraid to come to school.

"The worse thing we can do is let it stop us from going to school, stop us from enjoying that experience. Awareness, yes I am all for that, but not creating a culture of fear," explains Chief Ellis.

Students will begin classes in the new building after the first of the year.


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