2022 – After the Uvalde shooting, schools across the US ban backpacking, schools finish early and hire guards

School board meeting

  • Schools across the country have beefed up security in the wake of the mass shooting in Ovaldi, Texas.
  • In Florida, the police chief has banned backpacks — schools elsewhere have hired extra security guards.
  • “More stress and trauma are added by ‘make threats,'” one teacher said after the Ulvade shooting.

After an elementary school massacre in Ovaldi, Texas, schools across the United States are hiring extra security personnel and imposing restrictions on visitors as they deal with a new wave of copycat threats.

For some families and teachers, it all caused uneasiness after the deadliest school shooting since the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

Jake Green, 34, of Los Alamos, New Mexico, was shocked when he first saw a plainclothes police officer while taking his 7-year-old daughter to school Friday morning.

He grew up in Colorado, not far from where two Columbine School students shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher in 1999. Greene remembers attending memorials and candlelight vigils when he was a fifth grader, but is torn about what If the police presence in his daughter’s school is the best.

“In a way, I really don’t feel much safer with the police,” Green said. “When I saw the police there, it looked like the worst possible possibility today.”

In El Paso, Texas, where a gunman killed 23 people in a racist anti-Hispanic attack at a Walmart in 2019, schools are on alert. The El Paso Independent School District has already faced some reported threats that have turned out to be false. They are either “joking with students or overly sensitive parents,” said Gustavo Revels Acosta, a spokesman for the district.

“Our community is still fanatical about this incident,” Acosta said. “It hits us very emotionally.”
The district, which has its own police department, has increased patrols at all 85 locations. The officers were taken away from traffic control or other duties. Schools already have updated camera surveillance systems. Visitors must ring the doorbell and introduce themselves before entering.

A girl cries at a makeshift memorial in front of the Uvalde County Courthouse on May 26, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.

The district emphasizes concern for the mental health of teachers and students. An advisory team visited each school to talk about the Ovaldi shootings. They also urge people to speak privately about emergencies.

The belief that the Ovaldi murders occurred in her home state was fanciful, said Mia Bowcome, a 15-year-old high school student in Fort Worth, Texas. It also brought back memories of her school closing two months ago due to a shooting.

“I’m more nervous about this because I’m just scared, what if this happens at my school?” said Bocum, who had his last day of school on Thursday. “Suppose we have more police. Most likely, that will not stop people from just going crazy and shooting at schools.”

Schools have increased police presence in a variety of states, including Connecticut, Michigan and New York, after Tuesday’s shooting that killed 19 students and teachers.

In Buffalo, New York, where a white gunman shot and killed 10 people in a racist attack on a supermarket on May 14, the largest school district announced new safety rules effective immediately. All visitors – parents, siblings and sellers – must call in advance for permission. No exceptions will be made. It can be searched through the magic wand detector. Doors will be locked at all times.

In Jacksonville, Florida, the Chief of Police for Duval County Public Schools banned backpacks or large handbags at all schools through Friday, the last day of school. Small bags are allowed but can be checked

An unreliable threat against a middle school prompted a Texas school 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Ovaldi to end the school year a week early. The Kingsville Independent School District has announced that Friday will be the last day of school. But students should not see any punishment at the end of the early year.

Close-up of the FBI on the back of the jacket
Victor Escalon, regional director of the South Texas Department of Public Safety, speaks during a news conference on May 26, 2022 in Ovalde, Texas.

“There was a tremendous amount of stress and trauma in the face of the tragedy at Ovaldi. Unfortunately, there is even more stress and trauma when “mock threats” such as those used today at Gillette School (middle school) become widespread,” wrote Superintendent Dr. Sissy Reynolds-Perez in a statement on the county’s website.

Staff and students across the country are clearly nervous as multiple reports of sightings of firearms on campus have surfaced in recent days.

Two Seattle-area schools were closed Friday morning, and police eventually recovered an airsoft rifle. School closures in Everett, Washington, were subsequently lifted.

Two people were arrested Thursday after a Denver high school closed its campus. The police found a paintball gun, but no other firearms. Lessons have been canceled anyway.

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