As schools reopen, safety concerns have deserved priority

“If kids don’t feel safe, they can’t learn.”

That succinct summation by Mark Stamm, South Williamsport Area School District superintendent, is clearly shared by all of Lycoming County’s superintendents.

Until recent decades, it was not an observation that would have quickly crossed anyone’s mind.

But school safety is no longer assumed. There have been too many nightmares across the nation in recent years for that to be so.

Therefore, as children all over the county start trickling back to school this week, the safety of students is a top priority.

The South Williamsport district has formed a school safety committee and added a school resource officer, a full-time borough policeman.

At Hughesville High School, the building configuration has been redesigned and the location of the main office has been changed from the middle of the building to the front to limit access inside the school. New safety locks that act as barricades have been installed in many of the district’s buildings.

The same is happening in Muncy School District.

In Jersey Shore and other school districts, repeated drilling on what to do in a safety emergency is going on.

On one hand, it’s sad that such emphasis has to be placed on student safety that decades ago was not a concern.

But we would rather the school districts over-prepare and put people in place to ensure safety than to have lifelong regrets one tragic day for students, parents, district residents, administrators and teachers.

Safety, sadly, is no longer guaranteed.

But districts must – and apparently are – making building safety their first priority.

They are all on the right track.

Unfortunately, as state lawmakers, educators and law enforcement officials pointed out at a public hearing at Pennsylvania College of Technology Thursday, there is no “one size fits all” school safety solution.

There has been $70 million made available by the state for school safety security in the coming year.

Hopefully, some of that will bolster efforts of all the region’s school officials, police, safety personnel and others to make our classrooms safe and allow teachers to focus on what we count on them to do – educate our children.