Utah schools on high alert in light of recent security threats

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State, district, and school officials are making student safety a top priority always but especially right now.
 
Active shooters and people posing bomb threats are often unstable individuals who schools have no way of foreseeing. 
 
“Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to deal with every possible situation,” explained David Stephenson with Alpine School District. 
 
Still, in light of looming concerns, local districts are doing what they can to tighten up security and keep students safe. 
 
“They have to run emergency drills for elementary schools every month, and for secondary schools every-other month,” explained Mark Peterson, Public Relations Director for the Utah State Board of Education. 
 
Officials say there is also a fine line in protecting children’s emotional well-being. 
 
“We don’t want to make our schools a prison-like atmosphere…” Stephenson explained. 
 
Alpine School District officials say River Rock Elementary in Lehi is an example of successfully finding that balance. 
 
“It is kind of an inconvenience, but the response has been phenomenal,” said Principal Jason Benson. 
 
Visitors are able to enter the school using only one door, which takes them through the main office.  That way, every visitor is forced to first check in and let school officials know who they are and why they are there. 
 
A receptionist buzzes in each person, after they identify themselves. 
 
Alpine School District Officials say they are also hoping to relocate main offices in three elementary schools to the front of the buildings. 
 
“A lot of the time, office staff – they don’t even see what is happening,” Stephenson explained. 
 
But the ability to relocate those offices is dependent on whether voters approve a $387 million bond this November. 
 
Alpine School District is not the only area amping up security.  Canyons School District and others spent a lot of money doing that this year, and what money can not buy, dedicated parents make up for.  At Sunrise Elementary in Sandy, a different volunteer ‘WatchD.O.G. Dad’ patrols the school all day, every day.
 
“I took time off work… to make sure there’s no bullying and to also watch out for other adults that may not need to be here,” explained David Nelson, Thursday’s WatchD.O.G. Dad. 
 
Officials say they realize different programs will work for different communities.  Whatever the strategy, though, Peterson says good ideas often start with parents. 
 
“Get a hold of your school principal, get a hold of of your local school board or superintendent.  That’s where the plans are put together,” he explained. 

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