ECTOR COUNTY, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- Ector County ISD has announced it has increased security on all campuses and will also increase security for Permian High and Odessa High graduations this week. This comes in response to a school shooting in Uvalde, where an armed 18-year-old shot and killed 19 elementary students, two teachers, and injured many others at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday.
“We are being extra vigilant,” Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri said during a media call.
He said that vigilance will remain through the last few days of school and includes extra officers from the ECISD Police Department as well as deputies from Ector County Sheriff’s Office and officers from the Odessa Police Department.
“We are adding an extra layer of visibility…(officers) driving around campus and inside the halls as well,” Muri said.
In addition to the added security, Muri said all ECISD campuses already have “secure access procedures” in place. This means that visitors from outside each school are required to check in with an ID before being issued a pass that allows them to access the rest of the school. Historically, this has also included locked doors with only one entrance available to outside guests, especially on elementary campuses.
In addition to the extra police presence on campus, Muri said there will be a heightened police presence at Ratliff Stadium during graduation.
Aside from the extra security, Muri said the district has also stressed the importance of mental health services across all campuses throughout the remainder of the year to help students and staff process their emotions in the aftermath of such a horrific event.
“There are no appropriate words, or thoughts, or feelings,” Muri said. “As educators, we are horrified. When we heard…we activated our counselors…they are the experts, they know how to talk to children about traumatic events.”
Muri said the district learned a lot in the aftermath of a shooting nearly three years ago in Midland and Odessa that claimed the lives of seven people, including a student from Odessa High School, and injured 25 more. He said that is why the district understands the need for mental health services when things like Tuesday’s shooting happen.
“We learned from our own experiences…trauma doesn’t just go away in a couple of days, it takes time,” Muri said.
Even though the district has counselors available on campus, Muri said he also understands that parents need resources too, so that they can also have these hard conversations with their kids.
“Your child may not be ready to talk today or tomorrow or next week, but they will want to talk eventually. Our parents need to be equipped for the conversation,” he said.
As such, ECISD has information on its website for parents needing guidance. He called the information a “conversation starter” and said parents will find age-appropriate advice for young children as well as teens. You can find that information here on the righthand side of the website under the words “Talking with Children” .