Okaloosa Superintendent Responds to Uvalde Massacre

Christopher Saul

Christopher Saul

Mid Bay News

A Response to the Mass Murder in Uvalde

Okaloosa Superintendent Marcus Chambers sent a message to local media on Thursday, June 2nd concerning the mass shooting by an 18-year-old with a legally-purchased assault-style rifle. 

[For more on the shooting – you can check out local coverage from the Uvalde Leader-News. We are not on the ground there and are therefore not a good source for coverage on the issue.]

In his message, Chambers wrote, “Safer, stronger schools are the top priority for the Okaloosa County School District. The tragic events at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, remind us that we must be ever vigilant in taking the necessary steps to keep our children and staff out of harm’s way.”

Chambers continued, “each time such a tragedy occurs, it’s natural for all to be grieving the senseless loss of life while at the same time asking honest questions about the safety measures in our own schools.” Chambers says the district has created a list which serves as the “basic structure” of the school district’s school safety and security protocols. 

Formal Portrait of a Man
Okaloosa County Schools Superintendent Marcus Chambers

School Safety Plans

Superintendent Chambers noted he and the leadership staff at the district level have worked to “add additional security layers and ensure that we will continue to do so.” In the letter, he noted all district schools will have their single point of entry and perimeter security projects completed by the beginning of the 2022 school year. 

Additionally, thanks to ½ cent sales tax revenues, the sheriff’s office purchased and implemented advanced radio networks which allow for anyone to initiate a lockdown in any part of a school facility.  

As an added precaution, Chambers says, lockdown protocols and procedures get practiced regularly in order to prepare for an unexpected breach of security. 

Finally, classroom doors remain locked throughout the school day and outer doors are also secured. Perimeter fencing has also been placed around schools. “Those details are essential because an active assailant is likely to pass by a locked door or gate,” Chambers wrote, “Extra layers of perimeter fencing discourage or delay those seeking to enter our schools without checking in through the front office, giving responders time to counter the situation.”

 

Drone Photo of a High School Football Stadium in Florida
A photo of Niceville High School's Football Stadium from above. The high school is one of many facilities around the county receiving security upgrades this year. All of the security upgrades at all schools should be completed by the beginning of the 22-23 school year, according to the superintendent.

Response and Prevention on Okaloosa County School Grounds

The superintendent noted the district has expanded the school district’s Office of Safe Schools by adding employees who specialize in communications and threat assessment – as well as people who are knowledgeable in hardening schools. 

“Each school in our school district has a Threat Assessment Team that, at a minimum, consists of a school administrator and persons with expertise in counseling, law enforcement, mental health and instruction,” Superintendent Chambers wrote, “this team meets regularly throughout the school year to support students.”

 

Okaloosa County School District Logo
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An App To Reduce School Shootings.

Finally, Superintendent Chambers made note of the school district’s new phone app to report potential threats to authorities anonymously – the FortifyFL App. “Timely bystander reporting can make all of the difference,” Chambers said. 

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