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Tragic Shooting In Texas Changes Practices At Polk County Schools For Remainder of Year

Polk County School Board Press Release

Additional safety measures are being taken following a school shooting today in Santa Fe, Texas.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office and local police departments have agreed to station an armed law enforcement officer at each Polk County public school campus beginning Monday, May 21, and continuing for the remainder of the school year. In addition, school-based employees will continue to closely inspect and monitor campuses to ensure student safety.

“These officers will patrol our campuses to ensure the continued safety of our students,” said Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd. “I am grateful to our law enforcement partners for their commitment to keeping our students and schools safe.”

“I am devastated and heartbroken by today’s tragic news,” Byrd said. “Events such as these are reminders that we must always be vigilant in protecting our children. We can never let our guard down. The safety of our children is too precious.”

Also beginning Monday, no backpacks will be allowed for the remainder of the school year. Students may carry bags no larger than a small purse. Lunchboxes will still be permitted.

Polk County Public Schools continues to move forward with a School Safety Guardian program that will allow the school district to fulfill a new state mandate that an armed law enforcement officer or guardian be placed in each school.

Developed in collaboration with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, School Safety Guardians will be armed, uniformed district employees. Each candidate must undergo a background check, drug test, psychological exam and 144 hours of specialized training.

Beginning in the fall, elementary schools will have a School Safety Guardian. Middle and high schools will continue to have a school resource officer from a local law enforcement agency.

“With this terrible tragedy happening in Santa Fe, Texas, our local school leadership and our local law enforcement leadership will ensure an armed police presence at all of our schools through the end of the school year,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “The interviews, screening, and selection of our armed guardians are well underway. We will be prepared to have armed guardians at schools in the fall. Until then, the Chiefs and I have committed to making sure there will be an armed law enforcement presence at all our local public schools.”

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