Increased security measures before students return to Heritage High School

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – As students prepare to walk through the doors of Heritage High School for the first time since the school shooting last month, school administrators hope to calm their nerves.

On September 20, two 17-year-old students were shot and wounded when a 15-year-old boy reportedly opened fire in a hallway after fighting with one of his victims.

Since the shooting, Newport News school administrators have took steps to help students feel as safe as possible upon their return.

“We really wanted to make sure we got feedback on how the students felt about coming back, how the teachers felt about it,” said Secondary School Leadership Executive Director Dr. Felicia Barnett.

The frightening incident revealed ongoing safety concerns at the school. Now six security guards will be at the school, and one for Huntington Middle which is housed in the same building.

Staff have completed several return safety training sessions.

Barnett says they will also increase the use of metal detectors in a number of ways.

“Whether it’s through our bus scans, our detection rods, the use of metal detectors inside the building, as well as classroom research and quick scans, so we have a variety methods in a consistent but unexpected way to make students feel safe. entering the building, ”Barnett said.

When the students enter the building, there will be a team of counselors and social workers.

Barnett says teachers also set aside time for students to think.

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“They will also be able to take advantage of the opportunity with the morning meetings. The opportunity to discuss, provide feedback on their needs and give them coping strategies to deal with returning to the building after a traumatic event, ”said Barnett.

Each student will also bring home a “mindfulness box” filled with resources.

Heritage High School has set up a hotline for those affected by the shooting. District leaders said last week that more than 500 students called the number. Those who still need help can call 757-283-7868.

Barnett said these security changes will be implemented throughout the school year.

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