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BY PAM GOULD
The Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office will rotate deputies in and out of the county's elementary schools as students return for classes today.
That is one additional security measure put in place for the new year to protect the county's youngest students in the wake of the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in which 20 children and six educators were killed.
Elementary schools will also have school employees who are issued radios that enable instant communication with emergency personnel, Spotsylvania schools spokeswoman Rene Daniels said. School employees will have added responsibility for monitoring school buildings and grounds.
Spotsylvania County created a joint task force in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. The task force is headed by Schools Superintendent Scott Baker, Sheriff Roger Harris and County Administrator Doug Barnes.
The task force held its second meeting on Monday and issued a statement on Tuesday outlining its progress in reviewing and enhancing security for each school.
During the holiday break, school and sheriff's personnel visited each elementary school to begin evaluating the buildings for safety.
Soon, staff will be evaluating the middle and high schools, Daniels said.
The goal of the task force is to enhance safety at all school buildings, streamline communications among school officials and first-responders, and make appropriate adjustments to the county's crisis plan, according to the statement released jointly by spokesmen for each agency. The group is working on immediate, short-term and long-term safety measures.
At each middle and high school, the Sheriff's Office already has a deputy employed as a school resource officer.
This week, the Sheriff's Office will begin providing school staff with additional training on school safety. The Sheriff's Office will continue offering training throughout the remainder of the school year, Daniels said.
The task force is also crafting a plan to offer parents and others in the community a chance to volunteer to monitor school grounds and buildings to provide additional help.
The task force is expected to meet again this month.
To increase the sense of safety among students, staff and parents, sheriffs throughout the Fredericksburg area increased the presence of deputies at every school following the Connecticut school shootings.
Stafford will also have deputies checking in at its elementary and middle schools this week. It has assigned a deputy full time at each high school.
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972