West Virginia School Safety Bill Awaiting Signature of Governor Jim Justice

WHEELING — School buildings would have classroom numbers posted on exterior windows to identify classrooms to first responders under a bill passed by the West Virginia Legislature.

House Bill 2541 is currently awaiting Gov. Jim Justice’s signature. The measure requires each county board of education to implement a school safety program before Sept. 1, and there are four mandates for this plan.

First, room numbers would have to be placed on exterior walls or windows of school buildings, so rooms with exterior walls can be identified by law enforcement and first responders from the outside.

School districts would have to provide updated floor plans for each school to first responders and local law enforcement by Sept. 1 of each school year.

First aid training for all school personnel and students would be required each school year; as would active shooter training for all school personnel and students each year.

Gabe Wells, communications coordinator for Ohio County Schools, said some school buildings in the district already have numbers on their exterior windows, while others do not. The school district also sends updated floor plans to law enforcement on a regular basis, provides first aid training to staff, and schedules active shooter training events.

“If it becomes law, we will have to comply,” Wells said.

David Soltesz, safety coordinator for Marshall County Schools, said he favors HB 2541.

“It’s a common sense bill, a low cost bill,” he said. “Placing numbers on windows — that’s only the price of paper.”

He isn’t concerned the numbers on the window might help an intruder target a specific person or classroom.

“The benefits outweigh the risks,” Soltesz said. “People inside school areas for a long time often don’t use room numbers, but refer to a room as ‘Mrs. Johnson’s room.’ To a first responder in an emergency, that means nothing.”

The district already updates its plans and sends them to the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, he said.

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