In the wake of Friday's school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has announced a state plan to review school safety in Virginia at all levels.
McDonnell said Monday he plans to identify statewide and locality, school division, college and university resource needs to "ensure that we are doing everything humanly possible to keep our children, young people and educators safe while they are in the classroom."
"Just as public safety is the bedrock responsibility of government, the safety of our young people must continue to be the top priority in our schools and our campuses," McDonnell said in a statement.
In Fairfax County, there are regular safety and lockdown drills, and there was increased security at all schools Monday.
With the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in mind, McDonnell has requested that Secretary of Education Laura Fornash and Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker work together in evaluating recent safety audits of schools.
The governor also has established of a task force to review school safety, share best practices and look at challenges. This task force will also give legislative and budget proposals to the McDonnell, according to the statement. More details on the task force will be released next week.
The governor also announced the creation of a new position—a school and campus safety coordinator, which was originally an idea from the Governor's Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the families impacted by this tragedy, and to the teachers, first responders, and all others touched by the events of last Friday," Gov. McDonnell said . "Unfortunately, Virginians have our own painful memories of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. Those memories will never fade, and our mourning of those losses continues."
"As a father, I cannot imagine the grief experienced by those in Newtown, Connecticut, as they mourn the loss of their innocent children. ... As a sibling of a career teacher, the recollections of the heroism demonstrated by Sandy Hook Elementary School educators are a stark reminder to me that school personnel must be given all possible training, tools and resources to protect the children in their care."
The governor also told reporters he thought it was too soon to talk about changes to gun policy.
"It's just a couple of days after this horrific, unfathomable tragedy with so many little 6-year-old kids gunned down," he said. "I still can't quite come to terms with it. For me it was too early to start reacting or overreacting with what the right politices might be. There will be time to reflect on that over next 30 days."