Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie Christensen said her office helps promote the safety of students returning to classrooms by coordinating with local fire departments and school districts to ensure proper safety plans are in place.
“As the county fire marshal’s office, our accessibility to campuses really makes it a lot easier for us to go in and check not only fire safety systems such as fire alarms, sprinklers, emergency exits, lighting systems and locks to ensure the safety of those who are inside and as they come into the facility,” she said.
Christensen said her office also checks newly built campuses and ones that have been renovated to ensure the proper safety measures are in place. This is even more important now as districts scramble to meet the requirements presented to Texas schools by Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive.
“We work with ISD emergency managers, and that’s a big part of what we do,” Christensen said. “The emergency management aspect includes the unified command process and includes the response process, how we’re going to ensure that if something were to happen that we can all work together and respond to that.”
Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey spoke about the county's Safe School Commission, which he said is made up of a student, a teacher, a superintendent, a school board trustee and a parent. Community Impact Newspaper previously reported this group's purpose is to address school safety for private schools as well as Harris County’s 25 independent school districts.
The Safe School Commission is expected to release a report in the coming weeks to provide insight into how local districts can ensure the safety of their students.
“These folks have gotten into a room; they’ve left the politics at the door; and they said we’re trying to establish a new standard of care for the schools as they open up in August,” Ramsey said.
Watch the full press conference below: