On Jan. 30, Bolingbrook High School was briefly locked down after a student allegedly threatened a staff member with a BB gun. The teen, who reportedly believed the weapon to be real, was taken into custody following the incident.
On Feb. 13, schools went on soft lockdown in Romeoville as police searched for the gunman after 15-year-old Briana Valle and her mother, 33-year-old Alicia Guerrero, were shot in front of their Emery Avenue home.
In response to the incidents, VVSD is redoubling its efforts to ensure the safest possible environment for students and staff, the district said in a press release.
“We are taking the incident at Bolingbrook High School, as well as the incident that occurred in the Romeoville community near two of our schools, very seriously,” Superintendent Dr. James Mitchem said on Tuesday, announcing that several changes are being made districtwide.
“We have already met with local authorities to determine the best way to work together to handle similar situations in the future," Mitchem said.
Changes include increasing the number of lockdown drills, as well as the times of day during which the drills take place.
"We plan on holding drills before and after school and during lunchtime in all of our schools, as well as during passing periods in all of our middle schools and high schools,” Mitchem said. “We want to make sure everyone is prepared for as many scenarios as possible.”
VSD will also work to increase connections with the community by re-establishing the successful Friends and Neighbors Supporting Students program (FANSS) in both high schools and at all five middle schools, and by placing an emphasis on establishing proactive student support groups.
The following changes will also take place at BHS, according to VVSD:
- A new alarm system has been installed that alerts the staff of a hard lockdown and contacts the police, without needing to use the intercom system.
- In an effort to prevent students from opening exit doors during the day without an alarm going off, exit door alarms are being installed on doors 8, 10, 11, 14. These doors have been identified as off-limits for use during the school day. This will decrease the chances of an intruder entering the building unnoticed.
- An exterior strobe light system is being installed on the exterior of the building at doors 1 and 17 that will alert anyone outside the building when the school is in a hard or soft lockdown.
- The frequency of random searches will be significantly increased.
However, RHS will also get an exterior strobe light system, and random searches will be conducted more frequently on the campus, Randa said.
“Schools are known as ‘soft’ targets because they are more accessible than a ‘hard’ target such as an airport or government building,” Mitchem said. “It is impossible for any school district to guarantee that an event cannot happen on the campus. But our parents can rest assured that Valley View School District’s security system, which is recognized as one of the most comprehensive in the state, is designed to do everything it can to keep our children and staff safe.”