Gov. McDonnell addresses campus safety and changes - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Gov. McDonnell addresses campus safety and changes


We're a couple of days from marking one year since the Sandy Hook shooting rampage. In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell spoke about campus safety and the major changes that came following the shooting.

Governor McDonnell announced Friday will be a day of remembrance and mourning for the victims of Sandy Hook. He also spoke to students Godwin High School about the changes to school safety.

As students move between classrooms, lunch or a study session, there are 122 extra eyes on them all the time. Cameras are recording and being monitored by a security team. It's one of the many safety changes students like senior Andrew O'Sullivan have seen.

"We have totally changed the way we go about safety, I feel like this is a pretty safe school," he said. "I'm comfortable here."

Feeling safe was part of the governor's message to the student body. In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, the governor created a task force to tackle campus safety. Less than a year later, there are 61 formal recommendations.

His message: it starts with students telling someone when they see something is wrong.  "You might save injury, you might save lives, and it's the right thing to do," he said.

The governor says 97 percent of the schools in Virginia now do the lockdown drill at the beginning of the year. Alexa Reenie was the student who suggested the change.

"It's better to be safe than sorry," she said.  "I would rather suggest to be prepared and be too safe than not be safe enough."

Other big changes: millions of dollars to invest in more school resource and security officers, upgrades and changes to door locks and 70 percent of Virginia schools now have a mental health professional available on campus.

"There are so many things that happen to young people, that's when the data suggests the onset of mental health challenges develops," says Governor McDonnell.

School leaders say you can't stop every tragedy, but at least a proactive approach could lead to prevention and awareness.

The governor also encouraged that school safety be an ongoing conversation, even in the next administration. He asked everyone to take a moment to remember the victims of Sandy Hook.

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