School safety top of mind as students head back to school in Orange County

As Orange County students get ready to return to school on Wednesday, safety is top of mind for school officials and law enforcement. Incoming Superintendent Dr. Maria Vazquez said Orange County Public School staff trained for several emergency situations this summer.

"The tragedy that occurred at the end of the last school year in Uvalde, Texas at Robb Elementary School is fresh on our minds," she said. "They received training on various topics including crisis management that had an active assailant drill. Other training involved psychological crisis support."


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District leaders on Monday gathered at University High School along with area law enforcement including Orlando police. Orange County Sheriff John Mina said his deputies, which include 196 school resource officers, are trained to take out an active shooter as soon as possible.

"They’re not waiting for backup, they’re not waiting for a supervisor. They certainly aren’t waiting for the sheriff. When such a tragedy occurs, they are trained to go in and end the threat immediately," said Sheriff Mina.

He said his department has access to over 6,000 cameras at Orange County schools. The school district's police chief talked about a new tool called the Safer Watch Application. It is a program that staff will have on their cell phones or tablets to activate a school-wide lockdown with the push of a button.

"The safer watch lockdown alert button simultaneously sends an emergency alert message to 911 and designated school administrators. The lockdown is then to be announced using the school intercom system, said Chief of District Police Bryan Holmes.

As always, officials said if you see something, say something.