DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - How can we make our schools as safe as possible? It's a repeat question DeSoto County educators asked themselves after the Newtown shootings. Over the past few weeks, they've come up with several security changes.
They're changing the locks at every school in the county and upgrading surveillance systems.
"How can we make it a little safer today than it was yesterday?" asks John Caldwell, Chief Emergency Management Officer.
That's the reasoning behind DeSoto County School's push to enhance security at every school.
"Parents are concerned, we know the public's concerned," he says. So they're taking action.
"Every school building is getting re-keyed, so you're talking about 40 campuses. That's a pretty big undertaking," Caldwell tells abc24.com.
DCS has never changed the locks county wide. That's typically done on a school by school basis. Leaders decided the change was one way to immediately tighten security.
The county will also be installing cameras and call-boxes outside every front entrance.
"We're trying to control the access as they come in. That's another step," Caldwell says.
"Safety is our number one priority," says Principal Colleen Long. Her school, DeSoto Central Primary, already has cameras out front.
"We use them everyday to monitor things," she says. "We would see somebody if they are at one of the outside doors and we would see them if they come up on the campus."
Long says school doors are locked at all times, and children are never left alone.
"We've always done that. All teachers have a key to their classroom. When we're dealing with these precious babies you can never be too safe."
The changes will be made soon -- sometime this semester -- but the county does not a specific deadline. The work will cost several hundred thousand dollars.