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Keeping kids safe: Las Cruces charter school implementing extra safety precautions

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- In the wake of the Uvalde massacre, children's safety while at school is on the mind of many parents across the country.

"We make sure that our students and staff are safe," said New America School's principal Margarita Porter Thursday.

A 2015 study that was co-authored by New Mexico State University professor Jagdish Khubchandani revealed that a third of parents expect some type of gun violence to occur at their child's school. ABC-7 spoke with Khubchandani, who believes that number may be even higher since multiple high-profile school shootings have occurred since the study was conducted.

"This year, [the attention on the topic] is extra special. It is heightened awareness, heightened fears, there's a lot of panic in parents and rightfully so," said Khubchandani.

He added that as of 2022, guns are now the leading cause of death in children, and the number of mass shootings have increased, including the Uvalde shooting, which he called "one of the worst tragedies we have seen in recent times."

Due to this heightened safety awareness, many schools are ramping up their security efforts, including New America School in downtown Las Cruces. Principal Margarita Porter broke down the school's safety plan to ABC-7. She said they initially started to implement this plan when the Sandy Hook massacre happened almost ten years ago.

"We've put cameras in every space, in the classrooms, hallways, outside, on the street, and in our parking lot," Porter said. She said this is to monitor every single person who comes in and out of the school building.

The school has also narrowed down the point of entry to only one set of doors, which remains locked at all times. Students, parents, employees of the school, and visitors alike all must be buzzed in. Porter added that security cameras always monitor this door.

She added that the school also always has security guards on campus.

"One of the newest policies we're implementing this year is making sure our doors are always locked," said Porter, a protocol made directly in wake of the Uvalde shooting, as the shooter was able to enter through an unlocked door.

"That is one more level we are adding to make sure our students and staff are safe."

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Jason McNabb

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