COLUMBIA, S.C. — As the nation remembers the deadly shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, where 12 students and one teacher were shot and killed, the South Carolina Department of Education is working to make sure schools are safe in the Palmetto State.
Since 1988, there have been four school shootings in South Carolina. The most recent one was in 2016 at Townville Elementary School where 14-year-old Jesse Osborne shot and killed his father before opening fire at the school, injuring three students, a teacher and killing 6-year-old Jacob Hall.
"Townville was a tragic situation where they had all of the protocol in place," says Ryan Brown, communications officer for the Dept. of Education. "They had just a week prior conducted an active shooter drill, but unfortunately this individual came on school grounds with a vendetta."
Since then, the state has made major changes to school safety, especially when it comes to gun violence.
"The main thing with that is training for all of our teachers, our students, school personnel," says Brown. "The general assembly passed legislation requiring schools to conduct active shooter drills."
A $1.06 million federal grant to the Department of Health and Environmental Control is also training school nurses with the "Stop The Bleed" campaign, putting devices that can stop severe traumatic bleeding during an emergency in every school.
Brown says now the focus is on getting school resources officers and mental health counselors in every school in the state, along with creating threat assessment teams that can help look for signs of potential issues with students, but they need funding.
"It's going to take additional resources and additional actions by the general assembly to make what we know needs to happen happen, but we are in a very good place."
The goal is to make sure that all students and teachers feel safe while learning.