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School districts add safety precautions as students return to class

School districts across the metro are welcoming back students this morning in the hopes that new safety measures will improve schools as a whole.

JOHNSTON, Iowa — As students return to the classroom this morning, Johnston and West Des Moines Community Schools are taking steps to make their campuses more secure. 

Lynn Meadows, the director of communications for the Johnston Community School District, said this included updating their Emergency Operations Plan. 

Other new safety measures include audits conducted by law enforcement officials, implementing more crisis drills and having district crisis team meetings regularly. 

Meadows also said that this year, the district brought back safety training for their roughly 1,100 staff members. 

"It is pretty much to prepare our staff members of what to do should there be an active intruder situation," Meadows said. "Just really give them the tools and information they need to know, how to react and what the protocol is."

She also noted when law enforcement does make recommendations on what to upgrade in the schools, those reports will be analyzed before the changes are made. 

Money from the School Safety Improvement fund will be used for improvements that are decided on.

Laine Mendenhall-Buck, director of school/community relations in the West Des Moines Community School District, said two schools within the district will be getting secure entrance updates. 

Stilwell Junior High and Valley Southwoods will now have visitors routed through the office. Before being admitted into the building, visitors will be set up in the Raptor System, a visitor registration process. 

Mendenhall-Buck also noted these updates were not in response to the Uvalde school shooting, it was just a part of their long-term plan. 

Local 5 did reach out to Des Moines Public School District about their security updates for this year.

Amanda Lewis, communications officer for the district, sent this in response:

"We don't go into details about safety and security but that we invest millions of dollars into systems such as cameras and key cards, secured entrances to schools, our own patrol and security staff, etc."

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