ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — As a new school year gets underway, the Anderson County school district is implementing additional security measures to keep students and staff safe.
This year's most significant implementation is an online tool that allows teachers and staff to report a potentially dangerous situation and receive assistance much more quickly than before.
The platform is named Situational Awareness and Response Assistant (SARA).
"It is a dashboard for teachers in their classroom," Anderson County Schools Communications Director Ryan Sutton said. "On their computer, they can push a button for something that they might need assistance with."
Some instances when this platform would be used include medical emergencies or intruder and active shooter situations.
"[Teachers] can push that button on the dashboard and it immediately notifies via messages to different folks so they can get help the fastest and quickest way they can," Sutton said.
Lake City Middle School principal Mr. Kelvin McCollum said school resource officers are the first line of defense at his school.
On Thursday, a school resource officer will be at every Anderson County school as students head back to class.
"I try to treat these kids like they're my own, so even if these kids were in the building, I would treat these kids with the same level of respect," school resource officer Kevin Thacker said. "I want to make sure they're safe every minute of every day that they're in the building."
In addition to a doorbell camera at the front door of every school, Anderson County has installed key fob locks on all interior academic doors, including classrooms.
"Once a teacher or staff member comes here, they can buzz into the door. It will be locked at all times until someone takes their magnetic key and opens it," Sutton said.
"Safety is absolutely the most important element of what we do in education. If our folks aren't safe, they can't learn," Sutton said.