HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — Hopewell City Public Schools announced new safety protocols on Friday, as well as the first upcoming active shooter drills of the school year.
The school system announced on Friday, Aug. 12 that this week, Hopewell schools will have the first active shooter drill of the year. While in the past this has been a lockdown-style drill, the school will be modifying the drill in light of the school shooting in Uvalde this May.
Now, in the event of an active shooter, students will no longer go into lockdown. Instead, students will either evacuate the building or go into lockdown based on the situation. The updated drill will have students and staff practice both a lockdown and evacuation scenario.
One of these drills will occur at each Hopewell school at some point this week. However, the exact day and time of the drill will not be announced in order to provide a better practice scenario for students and staff.
Students younger than first grade will not participate in any lockdown drills for the first two months of the school year, in accordance with Virginia law. Instead, younger students will participate in drills that will take place later in the school year. Hopewell City Public Schools noted that the school system is careful to balance proper preparation with not scaring young students.
“We will continue throughout this year to review and update our security strategies to make and maintain our schools a very safe place for our children,” Hopewell City Public Schools said on Facebook. “We appreciate your partnership with us as we ensure school is a safe place for learning and growing.”
Hopewell City Public Schools has previously introduced increased school security, including more camera coverage and security officers, as well as updated training for school staff. Similar safety measures were previously revisited in school systems across Central Virginia.
Hopewell schools will also have fire, tornado and earthquake drills throughout the year. Unlike lockdown and evacuation drills, these drills will not be announced ahead of time.