Ahead of the upcoming school year, local law enforcement, school district officials and legislators are stressing the importance of school safety.

In a joint press conference on Aug. 2, Fort Bend County Sheriff Eric Fagan; District 26 Texas House Rep. Jacey Jetton, R-Sugar Land; and District 27 Texas House Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, took the time to highlight how the partnership between state, county, municipal and school district officials continue to work together to help maintain a secure environment and keep Fort Bend County students safe. School district officials from Fort Bend ISD, Katy ISD, Lamar Consolidated ISD and Stafford Municipal School District were in attendance.

Fagan said he is encouraging local law enforcement agencies to come together and collaborate to help keep schools safer.

“When your officers are on the street, [are] patrolling, [are] waiting for a call, stop by a school, walk around the campus, check the doors, make sure they are locked and secure—if they find one that is not locked, notify the administrators,” Fagan said during the press conference.

According to Reynolds and Jetton, a collaborative community partnership to keep kids and schools safe thrives with state support. So far, the state has put some measures in place, including in late June, when Texas leaders announced more than $100 million would go toward increased school safety and mental health programs.

Efforts have also extended to the Texas Education Agency, which was directed to put in place a chief of school safety and security to ensure districts have proper policies and procedures in place.

Key to state-community collaboration, however, comes in reporting suspicious behavior, Jetton said. This comes as the Texas Department of Public Safety, the TEA, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board were directed to expand and accelerate their efforts to promote the ability to report suspicious activity known to students, staff and families through the iWatchTexas reporting system.

“It’s important for us to pay attention and to be vigilant in our communities and with the people around us to ensure that we’re reporting those threats,” Jetton said.

The press conference comes as local school districts are in the process of undergoing a series of school safety audits, a requirement from the TEA to be completed before the start of the 2022-23 school year that comes in the wake of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde that left 21 dead and 17 wounded.

Included in the requirements are a summer targeted partial safety audit; exterior door safety audit; making sure all campus staff, including substitutes, are trained in their district’s and campus’ safety procedures; scheduling all mandatory drills for the school year; and ensuring all threat assessment team members are trained.

Local school districts, such as Stafford MSD, have been proactive with these mandates, which add to what districts are already doing to address safety and security.

“School security is not our second priority,” Stafford MSD Superintendent Robert Bostic said during the press conference. “School safety is our first priority. We’re always looking for activities and items that can continue to keep kids safe everyday.”

Still, Fagan reiterated that school districts within Fort Bend County remain some of the safest and secure.

“Fort Bend County is one of the safest counties in the nation,” Fagan said. “We work together. I had no hesitation from any superintendent when I brought this [press conference] up. All of them are very concerned about this. We’re making sure that all of these steps are being followed.”

The first day of classes for Fort Bend ISD and Stafford Municipal School District is Aug. 10. Katy ISD, meanwhile, will start on Aug. 17, while Lamar Consolidated ISD starts Aug. 22.