ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The Alexandria City Public School System is putting new measures in place as the new school year approaches that focus on student safety.
"We are hard at work preparing to open up the school doors and return to teaching and learning," Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. said in a statement posted online. "In keeping with our core value of being welcoming, part of that preparation includes an emphasis on student well-being, safety and security to ensure that our students feel welcomed, supported and safe in all of our school buildings."
Some of the updates and changes will include designated daily time for student social-emotional learning, upgraded school communications systems, better control regarding facility access and new student and staff ID requirements.
All secondary school locations will receive additional school security officers. Some campuses will also use staggered dismissal times as a way to control student volume. The school district is also banning students of all ages from leaving and returning to campus during the course of the day.
FOX 5's Melanie Alnwick says parents and staff pleaded for more help after a school year that began and ended with violence.
One parent who spoke with FOX 5 after the changes were announced, called them a step in the right direction and said upgrades to school communications systems will help the entire community.
"As each incident has happened, we’re all on the phone with each other, we’re texting each other, we’re texting our kids, we’re getting moment by moment updates by children, and we want to hear that level of importance on this issue and response to understand that the community needs their voice, we need their presence, their visibility when things happen," said Rebecca Tiffany.
In the fall of 2021, two students were shot in off-campus arguments and another was arrested just outside the school with a gun, Alnwick said.
Alnwick says there were complaints about bullying, and numerous fights were posted on social media.
School resource officers were reinstated for the spring semester, yet another off-campus brawl resulted in the stabbing death of senior Luis Mejia Hernandez just before graduation.
The superintendent says there will be additional measures if warranted. The school resource officer partnership agreement with Alexandria City Police remains in effect until the end of this coming school year.