Duval Co schools practice new safety program

By Chris Parenteau, General assignment reporter, cparenteau@wjxt.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:54:24 AM EST
Updated On: Aug 22 2013 10:18:45 AM EDT

Channel 4 has learned Duval County is just starting a new security program designed to meet "in-school" emergencies... including an armed intruder.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A new program in Duval County schools is designed to let emergency personnel know which classrooms need the most urgent attention in the event of an on campus emergency. 

Color cards will now be put under class room doors during an emergency to let alert first responders as to what’s happening inside the classroom.

The thought process is that with four different color cards, each with a separate meaning, they will show what type of potential situation is happening in a particular classroom. Police and paramedics will then be able to prioritize which classrooms need to be entered as quickly as possible and which ones seem to be safe. 

“They are still going to check that room to make sure everything is fine on the inside, but this gives them a way to gauge it now,” said Channel 4 Safety Expert, Ken Jefferson.

Jefferson said that the system isn't perfect, but he compliments the Duval County School District for having one in place that they can test out and continue to perfect as time goes on. Jefferson said that just like with fire drills and tornado drills, this system needs to be practiced.

“Because this is a new process, this is going to have to be repetitively done so the teachers can learn when is the right opportunity or right time to put the card under the door. If you don't have drills or exercises, someone will forget or put the wrong card under there,” said Jefferson.

Because of the potential impact on the safety of teachers and students in the classrooms, the Duval County School District did not want to comment directly on the uses of these cards or the meanings of each individual card, only saying that school safety is always a top priority.

“We actually have targets in our strategic plan linked to safety," said Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent of Schools. "We've invested more resources and personnel in schools to deal with that because it is a heavy lift."

While some are concerned that the cards could tip off a shooter, Jefferson feels that scenario is unlikely.

“They want to cause as much damage as they can, and probably won't spend much time trying to figure out what a sign under a door means,” said Jefferson.

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