Skip to main content

Davis Journal

District employs measures to keep kids safe at school

Mar 28, 2024 08:12AM ● By Becky Ginos
FARMINGTON—School safety has become a big issue around the country, leading parents to wonder if their children will be safe when they jump on the bus. In Davis County, the Davis School District is working hard to put in place safety measures to prevent those incidents from happening here or if they do, they’ll be ready. Directors for the different departments on safety gave a Board of Education report at last week’s workshop.

According to the Bureau of Justice/Department of Education, 99% of homicides involving school-aged victims occur somewhere other than school. 

“Schools remain one of the safest places to be,” said Assistant Superintendent John Zurbuchen. “We’re making the effort to make our buildings as safe as possible. It is often inconvenient but this is a people thing. We focus on the people. That’s the price you pay for security.”

One component is to make the physical buildings safe, said Weston Weekes, Facilities Administration. “Most of our elementary schools have security film installed. Almost half of our junior highs and one high school are complete.”

All route buses now have camera systems, he said. “Of the 240 buses, 10 do not have cameras. There are 7,000 cameras in the district that are monitored 24/7 at the District Security Office.”
All schools have secure entries with card access, said Weekes. “Additional card access is being added each year to gyms, tech buildings, etc.”

Weekes said they are also working on moving the main office from the middle of the building to the front where they have first line of sight.

Some other security measures in new buildings and existing buildings where feasible are:

• Clear sight lines to parking lots and the main building entry from staffed administration locations.  
• Single entry point – all exterior doors, including the main entrance will be secured at all times and will on be accessible via the physical access control systems.
• Visitors will be “buzzed in” to the Main Office prior to being permitted into the office or the school itself.
• Duress button covertly sends a signal to 1) the access control system to initiate lockdown. 2) The intrusion detection system to initiate a call to the police department.

Risk Management Director, Richard Swanson gave an overview of the Standard Response Protocol (SRP) that includes safety drills and student, staff and employee lanyard cards with the protocol information on the back.

“It’s a big job to keep 75,000 students safe,” he said. “Each month is a specific drill (fire, earthquake, active shooter, lockdown) and it’s the same drill across the district. Some of those are state mandated like our fire drills that are two weeks after school starts and then two weeks after Christmas break. It rotates throughout the year so that they do each of the SRP drills.”

“There are 14 different agencies we deal with on a regular basis,” said Blake Haycock, Director of School Security. “I call it a team because they’re already backing us up. There are 27 SRO (School Resource Officers) in our secondary schools. Safety doesn’t just fall on our shoulders, it’s a community.”

Last May, a student at Sunburst Elementary got trapped in the elevator, he said. “The student was pounding on the wall and it sounded like gunshots. The police were there in under two minutes.”
Another incident was at South Davis Junior High, said Haycock. “One of the teachers believed they saw someone with a gun. If someone makes a report we believe them. We’re a team member with law enforcement. There’s a two-minute average response time.”

Haycock said they want people to try and make safety a part of their everyday lives so it’s not inconvenient. “We want a safe environment in our schools. We are trying to build a human connection so people will report better. If you see something, say something.”