FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools leaders are adding an additional layer of safety to get ahead of the worst-case scenario.
“I never wanted to see this day where we had to have metal detectors in schools,” said Jonathan Wilson, chief safety security and emergency management officer for WS/FCS. “There’s a lot of things that are a lot different.”
District employees are moving metal detectors from middle schools to high schools during spring break. Right now, there are 64 metal detectors for 13 high schools. The district has 10 left over and is considering moving them back to middle school campuses or keeping them as a reserve.
The move to add metal detectors and increase checks started in 2022 when the district was able to buy additional units through a grant.
District leaders did admit Tuesday that the situation at Forsyth Tech last week pushed them to expedite the process.
“The fact that we’re doing this doesn’t mean the schools are any less safe than they were. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools are safe,” Wilson said.
District leaders have seen a drop in the number of weapons brought on campus from before the pandemic to now.
They’ve done four other random checks in the past and found pocke tknives, vapes and brass knuckles.
Random metal detector checks are only one layer in the district’s expanding safety plan.
“Our technology, our door access, our cameras, our SRO program, our Say Something system and our metal detectors…we use all of those all together and use them as a multi-layer approach. We’re in a much better position,” Wilson said.
Principals like Misty Walker will be able to decide when to roll out checks, and she’s already thinking about it.
“Any time we have a threat, not necessarily in school but in our community, we know we need to take some added measures here on campus,” said Walker, principal of Walkertown High School.
“We’ve got to be proactive because the question is not ‘if.’ The question becomes ‘when,'” Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough said.
He believes it’s a step in the right direction but wants to see them on and active every day.
“We’re caught up in the perception of metal detectors and what message does it send when we have metal detectors in our schools. The question is what message do we send when our babies die in school,” Kimbrough said.
FOX8 asked if the district is considering requiring metal detector checks every day.
A spokesperson tells us it’s up to the school board.
Right now, they’re focused on figuring out the logistics of how metal detector checks would work on some of their larger and more spread-out campuses.
“I go to bed each night praying and hoping they don’t happen in Winston-Salem, but we have to prepare for the worst-case scenario,” Wilson said.