By Delegate Rob Bloxom
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Over the last few years, we have all watched with horror as school shootings across the United States have taken place. We have been fortunate here in Virginia to avoid such an incident in recent years. Following the tragic events that took place at Virginia Tech in 2007, the General Assembly made significant, meaningful reforms aimed at not only keeping colleges and universities safe, but also our schools. After the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, the General Assembly established a grant program for schools to purchase and install security equipment. We cannot simply take actions once and assume all is well. We must continue to look at ways we can keep students safe in school. Additionally, we must evaluate what we have done, how well it is working, and what else needs to be done.
Last month, Speaker Cox announced the formation of the House Select Committee on School Safety to take a new, in depth look at how we keep children safe at school and ways we as a Commonwealth, can improve. This is the first select committee established in over 150 years in Virginia. This underscores the importance of this matter. Select committees are reserved for matters of considerable significance that fall beyond the jurisdiction of conventional and established standing committees. The Select Committee’s work will be focused on strengthening emergency preparedness, hardening school security infrastructure, implementing security best practices, deploying additional security personnel, providing additional behavioral health resources for students, and developing prevention protocols at primary and secondary institutions across the Commonwealth.
We must ensure our students are able to learn in a safe environment without the fear of violence. I am proud of the steps we have taken in recent years to protect our schools, but there may be more we can do. The Select Committee is tasked with developing the next steps on this important issue, with recommendations made by the Committee up for consideration by the General Assembly during the 2019 session.
As always, I am truly honored to represent the 100th District in Richmond during the General Assembly. I will monitor the proceedings of the House Select Committee on School Security, and I am very eager to stay fully engaged on behalf of our community and families of the Eastern Shore, Norfolk, and across Virginia. I invite you to share your comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.