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Washington Local elementary schools feature new safety details

"The safety really shouldn't be on their mind," Supt. Kadee Anstadt said. "They should just be coming to school and be kids."

TOLEDO, Ohio — School starts for Washington Local Schools students in a staggered manner beginning Thursday. The students stepping into the Shoreland and Silver Creek elementary schools will have new safety details awaiting them.

Superintendent Kadee Anstadt said the schools should feel so safe, the only thing the kids should worry about is learning.

"I don't ever want our kids to think about anything but a safe space when they walk in here," she said. "The safety really shouldn't be on their mind. They should just be coming to school and be kids."

Safety was the goal when WLS leaders designed the two new buildings. They spent the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic meeting with other area school district leaders, having discussions and utilizing what they felt were the best safety features.

But, they said safety starts with something beyond the brick and mortar.

"Our first line of defense is really just an alert staff," Anstadt said. "Staff that wears badges this year. Visitors that are wearing IDs. That's our first line of defense. Being able to spot somebody quickly that might just need help getting to where they want to go. And then our second line of defense, obviously, is a lot of physical defenses."

Some of the new features include an airlock drop-off which allows people dropping off items at the school to do so without entering, reinforced windows that can withstand tornado-force winds and a single-button lockdown in the event of an intruder.

"When a kid feels safe, when a child feels safe, they can relax and they can learn," sixth-grade teacher Steve Wexler said. "And this is the safest building I've ever been in."

Shoreland parent Amanda Hopkins likes the new school too.

"I love it. It's beautiful. It's high-tech," she said. "It has a lot different energy than the old school of course. It was great to walk through and see where my son will be hanging out."

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