Bristol, VA schools response to Florida and other mass shootings; beefing up security

School Resource Officer Mike Danser's car remains parked directly by the front door of Highland View Elementary, as a deterrent. (Thomas Gray/WCYB)

Most local schools have taken extra safety measures in response to more than 200 school shootings since Sandy Hook in 2012.

Lisa Dean is the mother of a Virginia High student and one of the school's counselors.

"Anytime something like this would happen, it's definitely concerning on both ends, as a parent and as a school employee," Dean said.

She said it is important for parents to talk openly to their kids about shootings like this and to listen to their concerns. It is especially important for children who have experienced trauma.

"It can be very traumatic for them,” Dean said. “Just talking to them, letting them share their feelings, their concerns, and being able to address, if they have safety concerns, things to ease their mind."

Mike Danser is a school resource officer at Highland View Elementary, on the front lines of the safety issue. He trains other officers and teachers on how to respond to an active shooter.

"Rather than teaching our children and folks in an office building to just hunker under a desk, we are encouraging them to fight and defend themselves," Danser said.

Danser patrols his school to make sure all doors are closed and locked. He also manages security cameras and lockdown tools throughout the building. He advocates against complacency.

"There are changes that we make after we assess the building and the safety threat, and that's not always well received because of the attitude: that's never going to happen here."

In emergencies, parents must let police and school staff do their jobs, Danser said.

"I am a parent, so I can understand the fear, the anxiety, the concern,” Danser added. “The one thing that we would ask is, obviously, don't come charging into the building."

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