These procedures and reports will be shared with the Department of Education and the School Safety Committee no later than June 10, the governor said. The committee meets monthly.
Schools where potential hazards are discovered will be encouraged to work with local law enforcement and their school safety teams to identify solutions to those hazards, including determining the time and cost of implementation. The Education Department will authorize up to $500,000 in emergency approval through the School Buildings Authority for each district, according to the governor’s office, to “make any additional safety upgrades ” that their school facilities need and be reimbursed when the work is completed.
Rhode Island Department of Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green told The Globe that these types of walkthroughs were nothing new and superintendents had been “vigilant.”
All schools already have safety plans, Infante-Green explained, but “what they’re doing now is making sure no rock gets left behind.” Any necessary funding will be “accelerated”, she added.
The commissioner told reporters that everyone in education was “bewildered” and hurt for school staff, teachers and students following the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where last week 19 students and two adults were shot by an 18-year-old gunman. Now, law enforcement’s response to the shooter is under investigation by the US Department of Justice.
“Again, our schools are a place where we need to work together to make sure everyone who comes into our schools feels safe,” Infante-Green said. She met with McKee and Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Col. Darnell Weaver the day after the shooting to find a solution.
“As a nation, we are still crying and still trying to figure out how this happened…again in the United States,” McKee said. The governor said he wants Rhode Island to be “proactive” and do everything possible to minimize the risk of reducing a mass shooting at a school.
On Wednesday, four people were shot dead in West Philadelphia on their way to a prom night. On Friday, a mother and her children were gunned down in Chicago. “Unfortunately, I could go on,” McKee said after listing a number of other mass shootings across the country in the past seven days.
Weaver said schools already have emergency evacuation and lockdown plans, but “we all have a role to play in making our schools safe,” he said.
McKee also called on the General Assembly to pass a series of gun reform bills. “Nothing on its own will be enough to end gun violence… But it reduces the risk,” McKee said.
“As a mother of two school-aged children, I can understand the sense of uncertainty and concern parents are feeling at this time following the Uvalde mass shooting,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. “That’s why we need to be proactive about keeping schools safe and supporting our local school districts with the resources needed to keep our schools safe and protect our students.”