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School safety: Guilford Co. to test security screeners at schools

Smith High and High Point Central will hold two open houses for people to learn about the scanners.

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Guilford County Schools announced it will take another step toward improving school safety across the district. On Tuesday, the school board announced a pilot program for touchless body scanners, also known as security screeners.

The district sent out a request for proposals (RFP) more than a month ago. Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras said the idea was discussed and proposed before the Uvalde school shooting. The board maintained their move on body scanners was not a direct response to the tragedy at Robb Elementary.

Guilford County Schools will give students, parents and staff an opportunity to learn about the scanners before they are installed in traditional high schools around the district.

The district will have the scanners installed at Smith High School and High Point Central High School, then hold two open houses for people to learn about the technology.

The first open house will take place at Smith High School on Wednesday, June 22, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The second open house will take place at High Point Central High School on Thursday, June 23, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Guilford County Schools said they will seek input from parents and other community members before a permanent installation takes place. If approved later this summer, the district would lease the scanners for installation at all traditional high schools around the district. Their goal is to have them up and running in time for the start of the new school year in fall 2022. The district said federal ESSER funds would foot the bill.

Contreras said the scanners are only in six school districts nationwide. One of them is Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. CMS approved body scanners from Evolv Technologies in the spring of 2022.

The scanners from Evolv can detect guns in backpacks and jackets without the student, parent or staff member having to remove that jacket or backpack.

The school district noted that the scanners would not necessarily be able to stop all school shootings, but they would add a layer of security and protection in addition to things like One Cards.

The district's discussion mentioned how violence is not just a school issue, but also a community one. They discussed how there need to be many other strategies put in place, such as investment in mental health. 

"What we're doing is attacking a symptom. We are not attacking the problem with this, but this symptom needs to be addressed the same way a fever needs to be addressed when you have the flu," said Guilford County Schools' executive director of emergency management, school safety and security, Mike Richey.

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