South Lakes High School is emphasizing its security and protest policies after a Florida high school shooting left 17 students and faculty dead.
Kim Retzer, the school’s principal, said the last several days have been “intense as the conversations and actions around school violence have taken place.” Last week, more than 350 students walked out of the school and stood outside midday for 17 minutes.
In response to mixed reactions about the walkout, Retzer said that Fairfax County Public Schools respect students’ rights to engage in peaceful protest and express their opinions, so long as the form of expression is “done respectfully, does not interfere with the rights of others, and does not disrupt learning in the school.”
“Students participating in marches or walkouts are expected to participate in class and to respond to administrative questions and directives in the same way as all other students,” she added.
School policies also encourage teachers to remain in class with students who do not participate in walkouts. Staff can participate during “non-work time,” she said.
The school regularly assesses its safety protocols, staff indicated. Retzer described Dave Bonner, a school resource officer stationed at SLHS as “pro-active” and “experienced.” Bonner routinely collaborates with the resource officer at the adjacent Hughes Middle School.
The school installed interior and exterior video surveillance several years ago and is in the process of upgrading older equipment.
Retzer expressed support for the feedback and support received by the school in the past week.
“I know I have hugged my child a little tighter in recent days,” she said.