Forsyth County Schools, Sheriff: Safety number one priority as the new school year begins

Justine Lookenott

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On Thursday, August 4, more than 53,000 Forsyth County students were back in the classroom for the first day of the 2022/2023 school year(Image by Getty Images)

(Forsyth County, GA) On Thursday, August 4, more than 53,000 Forsyth County students were back in the classroom for the first day of the 2022/2023 school year.

But with a new school year comes the usual safety concerns, something Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden addressed in the Forsyth County School District August Newsletter.

“Please know that the safety of our students and our staff is our number one priority,” Bearden wrote. “It always will be. School safety is a team effort and the responsibility of ALL staff and ALL students. We must work together, and we will.”

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New Hope Elementary School in Forsyth County(Image by Kim Bond)

The Sheriff's Safety Plan

On this first day of school, Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman also addressed school safety through a video posted to the Sheriff’s Office's Facebook page.

According to the video, each school in the district has been assigned one school resource officer, 55 officers total. This includes K9 units, supervisors and sheriff’s deputies.

He emphasized that each officer is specifically trained to handle active shooter threats, like the incident in Uvalde, Texas where 19 elementary students and two teachers were killed in a mass shooting on May 24.

“Folks, we know what to do if a threat were to make it to a school,” Freeman said. “I know some have concerns after seeing what we saw in other places like Uvalde. Rest assured this, deputy sheriffs in Forsyth County don't have to ask permission, they are ordered and expected to immediately respond to any threat that appears on a high school, middle school, elementary school or any other school.”

We don't overreact if it turns out not to be a threat but I assure you we won't underreact.- Sheriff Ron Freeman

But the number one way to stop these attacks is by preventing them in the first place. Freeman encouraged parents to talk to their kids about reporting anything they hear or see on social media that could be a potential threat to any school.

“Whether it's Sunday night at 2 o'clock in the morning or Friday at 8 a.m. before they leave for school,” Freeman said. “If you see something that has the potential to be a threat, please say something. Let us get in front of this, let us get a look at that. We don't overreact if it turns out not to be a threat but I assure you we won't underreact.”

Anyone in the community can report threats or suspicious activity through P3 Campus Reporting, which is an anonymous tip line provided by the school district and Sheriff’s Office to report non-urgent illegal activities.

Other Safety Drills

As for other safety concerns, school Chief Communications Officer Jennifer Caracciolo said that safety drills (like fire and tornado drills) are routinely done throughout the year and that basic safety training is embedded in the curriculum.

Each school also has a trained school safety coordinator who develops and implements school safety plans, including but not limited to the situations below:

  • Fire evacuations
  • Tornado and severe weather drills
  • Lockdown procedures
  • Emergency school closing
  • Shelter in place
  • Outdoor activities / extreme weather
  • Biological, Radiological and Chemical spills and threats
  • Visitor access to the facility
  • Staff training in First Aid and CPR

Anonymous tips can be reported to P3 Campus Safety by downloading the app here, submitting it online here, or by calling 770-888-3466, extension 1 or 3.

Anonymous tips can also be called into the Georgia School Safety Hotline at 1-877-SAY-STOP (1-877-729-7867).

For more information on school safety in Forsyth County, click here.

If you have a news tip in Forsyth County, contact Justine Lookenott at justine.lookenott@newsbreak.com.

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I cover local news in Forsyth County, GA. My debut into the writing world began at the age of 10 when I won an essay contest in Around Acworth Magazine in which I wrote about spending the summer with my pet goat, Eclair. Since graduating from Kennesaw State University, I have been published in several newspapers and magazines in the Atlanta area including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta School Guide, What Now Atlanta, Newcomer Magazine, the Marietta Daily Journal and the Cherokee Tribune.

Forsyth County, GA
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