Northside ISD taking preventative measures to respond to crisis at schools

Psychosocial help also available to students

By Patty Santos - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - After many tragic school shootings that have claimed the lives of thousands across the country throughout the years, Northside Independent School District leaders said they are constantly changing their plan to prevent and respond to a crisis at their schools.

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Lt. Kelley Fryar, with the district’s police department, said things have changed a lot in his 26 years on the force. The agency has more than 100 offices and more than 7,000 security cameras, as well as a constant watch on social media.

“As you see shooters and threats take place across the nation, they are constantly changing, and we’ve got to change with them and try to get ahead of them,” he said. “We try to get ahead, try to brainstorm the ‘Oh, my gosh. God forbid what would happen’. We try to get ahead of it and say, ‘What would be the next bad thing? And maybe we can prepare for it.”

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The police department’s resources and staff members are spread out across the district to ensure a quick response time. Training and connecting with staff members and the student body is vital to ensuring they will hear of a threat before it happens, Fryar explained.

“Kids now understand the dangers and call or come forward,” he said.

The district has a 24-hour dispatch to field calls at any time of the day or night. Investigators are on call if action needs to take place immediately.

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The district is also taking care of students psychologically. Dr. Kimberly Ridgley, the director of guidance and counseling, oversees more than 280 counselors in the district. She said students have a lot more anxiety than they used to. 

“Kids will question if their school environment is safe. Absolutely. Will kids come and seek services? Yes. They want reassurance that school is a safe place,” she said.

Ridgley’s staff was asked to help Floresville ISD students cope during the aftermath of the Sutherland Springs church shooting.  She has seen a change in the way students react to mental illness. She said more students see signs in their peers and report them to get help.

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