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Newton uses digital technology, law enforcement to protect its public schools
School safety
Shown are the doors leading into Newton County Theme School in Covington, one of 24 total schools within the Newton County School System. - photo by Courtesy of Newton County School System

COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County School System’s top administrator said Wednesday that it already combines technology with patrols by live officers to keep unwanted visitors from entering its 24 schools.

Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey said Newton County schools are equipped with digital communication devices and video streaming and recording equipment. Live law enforcement officials with access to K-9 officers also patrol the schools, she said.

The system is designed to help keep Newton County schools safe from such attacks as happened in Uvalde, Texas, west of San Antonio this week.

An 18-year-old gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on Tuesday, May 24, and shot and killed 19 children and two teachers after barricading himself inside a fourth-grade classroom.

The suspect, identified as Salvador Ramos, reportedly shot his grandmother prior to the incident and crashed a vehicle outside the school before entering it through a back door, police said. 

 A U.S. Customs and Immigration officer reportedly shot and killed the suspect.

Fuhrey said, “Our hearts are with the families, school staff, and the entire Uvalde community as they navigate the days and weeks ahead.”

“Unfortunately, the tragic event that occurred at Robb Elementary School joins a long list of tragedies related to schools and children,” she said. 

“School safety is our No. 1 priority, and we have continued to focus on our efforts to create safe school environments that meet the needs of our students,” Fuhrey said.

The school system has an enrollment of about 19,000 and employs about 2,600 teachers, administrators and staff members, according to information from NCSS and the National Center for Education Statistics.

It recently hired a school safety coordinator who works with law enforcement and conducts regular risk assessments and training sessions with NCSS administrators and staff, Fuhrey said.

All Newton County School System (NCSS) schools conduct regular safety drills with their students, Fuhrey said. 

Each school building also is equipped with a communication device — audio and video — that requires visitors to speak with front office staff before being permitted to enter a school building, she said.

The school system uses the ViewPath Camera Security Alert for Educators (SAFE) System in each classroom, she said. 

“This resource enables teachers and staff to send alerts to discreetly notify designated responders in emergencies,” Fuhrey said.

She said the SAFE System provides live audio and video streaming and recording “which ensures proper mitigation for each situation.” 

“Furthermore, NCSS has a strong partnership with local law enforcement officials and employs School Resource Officers (SROs) and a K-9 unit,” she said.

“Safety and security are at the forefront of our minds, as we are aware of the tragedies that have taken place on school campuses,” she said.  

“As a result” of the tragedies, NCSS employs RethinkEd which uses research-based tools and resources to offer students, families, and staff members social, emotional and mental health support, Fuhrey said.