Since Aug. 1, the United States has seen 34 school shootings, killing 14 people and injuring 54 others. Clarke County School District and Cedar Shoals administrators are following strict procedures to ensure the safety of all students and staff.
Word of a school shooting threat spreads fast with the help of social media platforms. The Athens community saw just how fast this can happen on the night of Oct. 31, when a student posted a specific Cedar Shoals shooting threat on Instagram.
The threat was posted to an anonymous account named “cedarschoolshootingg.” The post outlined the approximate time, location of the attack, a planned point of entry and even a potential motive.
“More than anything else, we want to make sure that people are using the platform (Instagram) for the right means. I definitely appreciate all those people that emailed or that called and reached out as soon as they knew,” Cedar Shoals Principal Antonio Derricotte said.
Clarke County schools’ “Threat Assessment Protocol,” involves the investigation of any threat as well as cooperation with law enforcement to ensure the safety of staff and students. For safety reasons, Derricotte declined to disclose specifics about the protocol.
“When something is made known to the administration, we have to investigate and look through a process. We then loop in district officials, and we let the superintendent know,” Derricotte said.
Cedar Shoals administration approaches each school threat as if students are at risk until it is safe to assume otherwise.
“We try to look at the time of day and how many people may be impacted in terms of what location in the building. Lots of different pieces come together in terms of looking at how isolated or how widespread this particular event may be,” Derricotte said.
In the event of a shooting threat, administrators work with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department to establish an adequate police presence on campus. Even after the threat is gone though, it affects the school’s academic environment.
Many students opted to stay home on Nov. 1 following the shooting threat the night before. Only 373 students out of 1,461 were present that day.
Even though the administration is committed to working with the police to ensure the safety of all students, some students and families feel that it’s still better to play things safe and stay home when something like this happens.
“When I got home that night I told my dad a shooting threat had been made and that I wasn’t going to go to school. He completely agreed even though we both felt that it probably wasn’t real,” junior Finn Morton said.
Unlike Morton, not all students were aware of the threat until arriving at the building that morning. Junior Kaj Miller found out about the shooting threat in his first period class.
“I was a little bit worried. Something like that is really serious, but the fact that there were still people here and there was a fairly large amount of police cars outside was comforting. I wouldn’t have gone to school if I knew, just to stay on the safe side,” Miller said. “There’s nothing wrong with playing it safe.”
The safety of the staff and students is an utmost priority of CCSD and Cedar Shoals administration.
“As a school, as a district, we’re always going to do as much as we can to maintain the safety of our students and our staff. There’s not ever a time where a comment is made that we don’t do some type of assessment to be sure that we’ve done everything that we can possibly do to keep our students and staff safe,” Assistant Principal Jones said.