URBANA, Ill. (WCIA)–The district is making protection for students and staff a priority. “I think it’s always been a concern, but in recent years it’s become more and more of a concern, not just in our community but nationwide,” said Kevin Erlinger, Technology Coordinator at Urbana Middle School. “We’re seeing lots of issues across our country around bigger issues of violence that we just saw in Texas and Ohio,” said Joe Wiemelt, Principal at Urbana Middle School. This week the Urbana Board of Education approved a district Crisis and School Safety Committee. They will review plans to prevent injuries, health hazards, and threats to schools. Some of the top priorties are fire and weather preparedness and reunification events. Joe Wiemelt is Principal at Urbana Middle School. He says there’s another focus for this committee.
“Intruder alerts, school shootings, and school violence that comes in from the outside,” said Wiemelt. This year he’s making changes. As a 2nd year principal in Urbana, he’s gaining a better understanding of the building, looking at ways to improve security, and enhancing the way they do intruder drills. Staff say it’s important to make students a part of the process. “You talk to your students. You make sure they know what the plans are if something does happen. You let them know that you’re vigilant,” said Erlinger.
They’re also addressing student behavior. There’s a new student handbook for parents that outlines the code of conduct, and they’re working more on identifying which students are struggling and how to respond. Wiemelt says they want to create an environment where everyone feels safe and they know what to do if danger walks into the building.