SANTA FE, Texas (AP) – Students in Santa Fe, Texas, will begin a new school year Monday with additional security measures in place following a mass shooting in May that left 10 people dead.
The school district had metal detectors installed at entrances and hired five additional police officers, as well as 10 “security assistants” who will monitor hallways throughout the day. Teachers are receiving training on both trauma support and active shooter situations.
For some students, Monday will be the first time they’ve been back in class since the shooting rampage , which happened toward the end of the school year.
“We are going to try our best to get it all right on Monday, but I’m sure there will be things we’ll have to go back and tweak to get it right,” school board President J.R. “Rusty” Norman said last week, according to the Houston Chronicle. “But we will get it right.”
The school has also built a new hallway so students and staff won’t need to walk in the art classroom area, where authorities say Dimitrios Pagourtzis began a rampage that killed eight students and two teachers. A grand jury has indicted Pagourtzis on capital murder charges, and he remains jailed without bond.
The school says it’s also hired additional counselors who specialize in trauma to aid students and staff, Superintendent Leigh Wall said in a video posted on the district’s website that outlines the security changes.
“It’s going to be difficult in many ways for many people to return,” Wall said. “But I also think it’s going to be a great opportunity for us to come together and pull together as a community.”
Rhonda Hart, whose 14-year-old daughter, Kimberly Vaughan, was among the students who died in the shooting, said she and other victims’ parents welcomed new safety features at the high school, including metal detectors. However, Hart, who has been outspoken on the need for more gun control, said her middle-school-age son would not be returning to a Santa Fe district school this year.
“As long as we have the leadership in Austin and Washington, D.C., that we have now, I don’t trust Texas schools to protect my kid,” Hart said.
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