ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Parents dropped their kids off at school on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after a mass shooting killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. For all, it is a heavy day.
“I think I’m like everybody else. I feel sick to my stomach,” said Scott Elder, APS Superintendent. “It’s such an awful tragedy and when you think about it, being such little children, it just makes it exponentially worse.”
It also leaves parents in the metro wondering how safe their students are at APS. “I hope parents know APS is doing everything they can do keep their children safe,” said Elder.
He said APS has spent years working to beef up security at schools. The district has spent millions to add fencing, locks to doors, heavy duty doors, and systems to buzz visitors into buildings, all to help control who is on campus.
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The district also has 54 sworn officers spread among most middle schools and all high schools. Elder said they also focus on training staff on how to react to a mass shooter situation. Still, the district knows nothing is 100% preventable alone.
“This isn’t a school issue, this is a community issue,” he said. “There’s only so much we can do by ourselves and it really comes down to us working together to keep the children safe.”
He said how they’re helping students inside the building is just as important as security measures on the outside. He said especially after the pandemic, it’s important to work with local and state entities to provide programming and services to children.
“Just helping students to come up with positive and productive ways to help them manage their emotions other than doing something dangerous or scary,” he said. Elder said the district’s biggest tool in preventing a tragedy is each other.
“Really focusing on see something, say something. Making sure people understand that’s not tattling, it’s making a good decision and taking care of people and really keeping our community safe,” he said.
Elder said about a month ago, students expressed they want more training on what to do in an active shooter situation. The superintendent said the district will work to have more of those drills in the future.
Following Tuesday’s shooting, Elder wrote this letter to parents and students. The district is encouraging anyone who feels anxious to contact the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line at 1-855-662-7474.