EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) As some schools welcome their students and staff back to the classroom and others prepare for the start of school next week, local school districts discuss changes and upgrades to safety procedures.

KTSM reached out to the nine school districts in El Paso county: Ysleta ISD, Socorro ISD, El Paso ISD, Canutillo ISD, Anthony ISD, Tornillo ISD, Fabens ISD, Clint ISD and San Elizario ISD. Of those nine, six responded to give a look at their safety protocols and procedures.

Six of the nine responded to KTSM by the time of this report to discuss their safety procedures.

EPISD

At El Paso’s largest school district, Manuel Chavira, the EPISD Chief of Police Services, told KTSM the schools spent the summer reviewing the safety procedures of each campus.

“Schools had pre-audit as directed by the governor, we have ensured that all our campus’s perimeter doors and security checks have been done accordingly,” Chavira said.

Chavira said they couldn’t go into specific detail about the emergency operations due to safety concerns, but he mentioned EPISD officers would all have a master key. All school staff, including administration, teachers and even substitutes willbe informed on the emergency plans.

“They come in and are able to get a brief training on emergency procedures should there be an active shooter event happening at the campus,” Chavira said.

EPISD has a two-phase policy for those visiting and entering campus. Perimeter doors and gates are locked to funnel people to one main entrance where they need to go through a screening process.

“At the front, there is a front door access control camera to point your ID to verify the person coming in and verify their ID then they buzz through and come in to run ID through the sex offender database, if clear, a visitor pass with name, the location they want to visit, date and school name so it’s only good that day that campus in that area they are visiting,” Chavira said.

EPISD also held integrated active shooter training with other local agencies including El Paso Fire and Police Departments, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Border Patrol and UTEP and EPCC police offices.

“We also have a local agreement with EPPD to get more police presence on campus, we can hire them on an off-duty basis to post and patrol at our elementary schools,” Chavira said.

SISD

At El Paso’s second-largest school district, Socorro ISD, Superintendent Dr. Nate Carman said the district is making some changes to upgrade safety.

“We reviewed all protocols and put in some additional training for staff and campuses so they are aware of what they can do using all eyes and ears,” Carman said.

Carman said the school board recently approved more positions in the SISD police department.

“We are also moving some officers to campuses so that every campus will have an armed police officer at every single campus, every sinlge elementary campus all the way up,” Carman said.

He added that once the district finishes hiring staff, they will have two police officers at every one of the district’s comprehensive high schools in addition to the existing security officers, crossing guards and monitors they already have.

“I think Uvalde was a wake-up call for school districts all around the state and the nation,” Carman said.

Other policies at SISD, when school is in session, doors are closed and locked, to get into the main building it’s through the main entrance where the front office will buzz them in. They also scan IDs to make sure they are the appropriate visitors for the campus before they are allowed inside the building.

“Nothing is foolproof but we have done a lot to make sure kids are safe coming onto campus,” Carman said.

Canutillo ISD

Over in Canutillo, the school district spokesperson, Gustavo Reveles, said they always review safety but this year they also made some upgrades.

“Every one of our schools will be equipped with safe doors that are magnetized and could only be opened by staff with badges,” Reveles said.

Visitors to campus will have to go through the front door and show an ID through a camera before they are allowed inside the school and they have to disclose their business at the school.

“This will create some wait at our schools, especially at the beginning of the year when people are trying to register kids and dropping them off we are asking for patience,” Reveles said.

Canutillo ISD also showed KTSM its surveillance control room where cameras 24/7 overlook schools.

“We want to assure parents we would never open a school if we felt there was anyone in danger so we ask them to talk to students about safety and the “do’s and dont’s” of being safe and the consequences of joking around on that,” Reveles said.

Canutillo ISD works with local and state officials and has retired officers from other agencies on the police force.

Anthony ISD

In Anthony, Texas, the school district spokesperson Adriana Candelaria, said AISD invested in some upgrades to security in addition to the measures they implemented several years ago.

Since 2015, AISD upgraded cameras throughout the schools in the district. They also installed ISONAS, which are security boxes outside school buildings that need keycard access to open.

“They don’t allow anyone in unless they have access cards which are employees or those who had background checks,” Candelaria said.

The doors automatically lock when the bell rings for school in session and only the front office can let people in if they don’t have those access cards. Like other school districts, AISD requires visitors to present an ID, then they will be allowed in and go through a screening process and given a temporary visitor pass.

AISD also installed Door Jams this summer, which is a metal tool to reinforce doors inside the building.

A Door Jam is installed on the inside portion of a door and a teacher will have the access to the tool to quickly insert into the compartment to “jam” the door shut in the event of an emergency.

“As you see some of the reports out of Uvalde, you see there is a need to have the doors locked and here in our district some doors have to be locked on the outside which is why there was a need for the door jams,” Candelaria said.

In 2020 the district also installed bullet-resistant windows at its elementary school.

As for active shooter training, Candelaria said AISD also works with the Anthony Police Department on those drills.

“It also helps police department be aware of the layout of campus and facilities so they are familiar with classrooms,” Candelaria said.

Tornillo ISD

Across the county in Tornillo, Jorge Heras, the safety and security manager of TISD said they have done a number of things to prepare for the student’s return.”

“We do door lock assessments over the summer, safety and security audit with regard to components to every exterior egress door throughout the district,” Heras said. “Uvalde has changed the district’s approach.”

TISD went through active shooter training conducted by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office over the summer.

“It opened up eyes within the faculty and the non and instructional staff and some not fully aware what active shooter training consisted of and with the training with sheriff’s office we are better prepared,” Heras said.

TISD also uses the same visitor screening process as other districts in the area where an ID must be presented before entering a building in order to get a temporary pass.

“We have one officer per campus and they do monitor during the day,” Heras said.

A safety committee consisting of Heras, a school board member, the school board president, Texas DPS, EPCSO, two parents and the superintendent have meetings to review procedures and protocols throughout the year.

San Elizario ISD

At San Elizario ISD, Associate Superintendent Joe Segovia and Jesus Martinez, the support services director, share the protocols at SEISD.

“We do have security officers at every campus and they are stationed at the main gate of every campus because we do secure our perimeter so their role is to screen every visitor that comes in,” Segovia said.

At SEISD visitors also must go through a screening process with an ID and a run through the sex offender database they can be granted a pass.”

“We won’t let the visitors go into the building if it’s not necessary. We also have surveillance cameras throughout the district and they check the interior of the building and also the exterior of the building,” Segovia said.

Martinez said SEISD also has school resource officers at the high school and middle school campuses.

“One of our advantages is that our district has all the campuses on one main street, which is a global road. So by stationing our SROs in the high school, and in the middle school, all the other campuses are kinda like in the middle. So even though they’re at the high school or middle school, those SROs can respond quickly to anything that might happen on the elementary campuses,” Martinez said.

SEISD also works with local law enforcement such as EPCSO and includes them in its Safety and Security Committee meetings.

“We do have a strong relationship with our Sheriff’s Department, also our marshals at the city, they often are in our buildings in different meetings to discuss, say, for example vaping or illegal substances, they partner up with us to help out,” Segovia said.

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