CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A resource officer at George Washington High School looked into allegations of a student making violent statements. Police led bomb-sniffing dogs through schools in Wirt and Roane counties after threats were made. And Charleston police asked entire divisions of officers to patrol city schools for any sign of crime.
On Monday, police stepped up their presence at West Virginia schools to ease fears of another deadly attack like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where police said a gunman forced his way into the school and fatally shot 26 children and adults Friday.
Students and parents may have feared a copycat attack Monday, but no one was in any more danger than they were prior to learning of the deadly shooting in Connecticut, said Charleston Police Sgt. Bobby Eggleton.
Officers and detectives from Charleston Police Department divisions were assigned to every school in the city as security and to direct traffic. They would be there until students went home for winter break next week, Eggleton said.
"We're doing this at the direction of [Chief Brent Webster] to just make the public feel safe again," he said.
The Connecticut shooting also has shed new light on the state Board of Education's work on Senate Bill 592, which, at the Legislature's request, will provide a consistent statewide crisis response plan for schools.
The bill, which was introduced in June of 2011, asks that the plan be implemented by August, said Liza Cordeiro, a spokeswoman for the state school board.
"Every school system in the state has a crisis response plan in place for any type of crisis every day of the year. With that said, we do recognize we still have a long way to go," Cordeiro said. "Everyone has always realized safety is paramount, but it's good we're talking about it more, and this August deadline is at the forefront.
"What's nice about a consistent plan is it will all go online for first responders so that they have the blueprints, know where exits and locked doors are," she said. "Right now, that's all on paper, but it's not easily accessible."
Charleston Police Lt. Shawn Williams said Monday's patrols were quiet except for reports of a George Washington High School student making threatening statements in the morning.
"The resource officer investigated and it wasn't as bad as what had been reported," Williams said.
Meanwhile, students at Wirt County High School and Geary Elementary Middle School in Roane County were evacuated after both schools received bomb threats, officials said.
State police and their K9 units in Wirt County swept through the school and found no signs of explosives or danger, said Edwin Wriston, county director of emergency services. The school learned of the threat at about 10 a.m. Students were evacuated to a nearby church until the scene was cleared more than two hours later, Wriston said.
Roane County 911 dispatchers said the Geary school received a bomb threat just before school let out at about 2 p.m. A Roane sheriff's deputy checked out the scene and cleared it of any danger a short time later, dispatchers said.
West Virginia is continuing to improve school safety and had been reforming crisis response plans before the Connecticut shooting on Friday, according to Mike Pickens, executive director of school facilities for the state Department of Education.
A template for the statewide crisis plan has already been developed, and thousands of professionals across the state are being trained to use the Automated Critical Asset Management System provided by the federal Department of Homeland Security.