LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As kids all across Kentucky return to the classroom, safety is once again a top priority after the country watched another mass shooting take place in an elementary school in May.

Students pack their backpacks with notebooks, pencils, and folders, anticipating a year full of new lessons to learn.

At the same time, district administrators are working to welcome back those students to a safe, secure building.

"Safety is always a growing issue that continues to evolve," Sarah Smith, Bullitt County Schools' director of school safety and mental health.

Three Kentucky school administrators discussed security plans with WDRB. Bullitt, Hardin, and Jefferson County Public Schools.


School Resource Officers

Bullitt and Hardin County Schools have resource officers.

By law, Kentucky schools are required to have one armed officer working on every campus. If that requirement cannot be met, because of lack of funding or personnel, they must develop plans with the state on how the district plans to get there.

"Those guys are critical," John Wright, Hardin County Schools' spokesperson said. "They have told us over and over and over again they are going to the threat. They're not going to wait around and see what happens or anything of that nature. They're going to that threat and they're going to eliminate that threat."

JCPS school safety officer plan is different. The district passed a new plan in the beginning of 2022.

An armed school safety officer patrols between three and seven nearby schools by car. 

JCPS Chief Operations Officer, Chris Perkins, said one third of its school safety officers have prior law enforcement experience. Others are new to the field. All are required to undergo 100 hours of training, including active shooter training.

"They'll be assigned a car and able to patrol that area provide immediate response just within that vicinity," Perkins said.

A safety administrator will be in every JCPS middle and high school. They will also oversee several elementary schools.

"They've been going through training all summer long, not just for the job but also get them acclimated to a school," Perkins said.


Safety Training and Measures

As for teachers inside the classroom with kids every day, all three districts put them through safety training with Kentucky State Police or local law agencies.

"It's very difficult for staff to really think about that true situation, if it was to happen," Smith said. "But the more they go through that, the more they become experienced and confident and how they can respond in a situation like that." 

The safety measures go beyond training teachers.

Districts also rely on safety measures built into the school. Cameras, doorbells, and easy-to-lock doors. 

All a key point after schools across the country watched an armed teenager walk through an unlocked door in Uvalde, Texas.

"I've partnered with maintenance department, they've already done a sweep of all our school buildings to ensure that every one of our exterior doors are working properly," Smith said.

Another lesson administrators pay closer attention to is communication between all entities.

"Not that it (JCPS communication) was lacking but affirming the importance of that between law enforcement agencies," Perkins said.

As students head back to class, state law also requires one lockdown drill within the first 30 days of returning. 

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