MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. – Students in Marshall County schools headed back to class this week. They were met with a new set of safety measures from technology, to peer helpers, to bulletproof glass.
The school system got a safety analysis over the summer. The DAR campus was first up for safety changes.
“We connected two buildings with a breezeway and we’re also putting more bulletproof glass in and an extra barrier in the entrances of the schools,” said Superintendent Cindy Wigley.
Other campuses that need updates will follow, it’s part of safety changes system-wide.
Another aspect of this initiative is an initiative called the Peer Helper Program. Students are rigorously selected, and then once selected, they’re specifically trained to be able to help their peers with any type of problems they might have, but they also know when it’s time to go to an adult.
“We actually trained maybe on how to use empathy instead of sympathy, where you feel their problem instead of having sympathy for them,” explained student Logan Edmonds. “We actually trained on what questions to ask and what not to ask.”
A student can find an avenue to help through a route they’re maybe more comfortable with.
The system also implemented a software program that monitors student activity online.
“To look for keywords, key phrases, that might talk about self-harm, bullying, any kind of threat,” said Charlie Jimmerson, the director of technology. “It allows our principals, our counselors, even our parents to monitor what our students are doing during the time that they’re logged on their internet accounts here at school and even at home if they’re logged into it.”
School leaders say all of the components come together to address safety in the buildings, mental health, and online.
Parents and students can access a tipline with multiple ways to provide information on the Marshall County Schools homepage.