In Worthington Schools, we consider the safety of our students, staff and community a top priority.

We consistently are working to ensure our students, staff and teachers continue to learn and grow together in a safe environment.

In Worthington, we take a three-pronged, holistic approach to school safety: secure the environment and our facilities, train students and staff members, and provide the resources necessary to help address mental-health needs.

Although we have a comprehensive school-safety plan, we always can improve on current practices. That's why our district will be enhancing school-safety initiatives for the next school year.

The development of our improved safety plan is based on discussions with families and staff members, as well as working closely with safety experts.

Starting next school year, each of our traditional high schools will have a school-resource officer.

These officers will serve as an important link between our community and the schools, and they will work to build positive relationships with teenagers.

Nearly all school districts in central Ohio employ a school-resource officer, and both our high school principals and many of our high school staff members agree they will improve the safety of our schools.

We also will add more training, including formalizing a safety team for each building and offering safety training for staff prior to the school year, implementing initiatives to help prevent gun violence and conducting full-scale safety drills after school starts.

We continue to focus on the social and emotional needs of our students. The number of mental-health specialists employed by the district will be significantly increased, and access to this mental-health support will be available in all of our buildings.

These actions are in addition to other steps taken in recent years, including making sure all buildings are locked during the school day. Entry to a building is granted only after identity is confirmed via camera by school personnel.

We have worked with local police departments to gain ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate) training for both staff members and students.

The district also has counselors at each school and three mental-health specialists currently.

We want every child to feel safe and comfortable at school, and we will continue to evaluate how we can make our schools even safer on an ongoing basis.

Assistant Superintendent Randy Banks leads school-safety initiatives. Contact him at rbanks@wscloud.org. We are open to your thoughts and ideas about safety.

Trent Bowers is superintendent of Worthington Schools. Contact him by email at tbowers@wscloud.org.