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Mon Schools: Weapons detectors may occasionally be placed at home football games this fall — as part of overall testing of the devices

Now that school is back in session and football is again upon the land, will the weapons detectors purchased earlier by Monongalia County’s Board of Education be showing up at home games here anytime soon?

Most likely, Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said.

However, he said, they won’t be regular fixtures under the Friday Night Lights — not just yet.

“I don’t think we have any immediate plans,” the superintendent said, “but we are going to try them out in random placements as we work through everything.”

For now, working through everything means working hundreds of students through the devices at Morgantown High School, University and Clay-Battelle every morning before homeroom announcements.

The high-tech screeners, purchased in January from the company CEIA USA, are programmed and calibrated in such a way to discern the metal density, of say, a pistol (or larger weapon) or a knife.

“Anything that can cause mayhem,” the superintendent said.

Mayhem and murder, now occurring with jarring regularity in America’s schools, prompted the purchase.

Concrete discussions on the procuring of such preventive safety measures kicked up here last December after a student at a high school in suburban Detroit was charged with fatally gunning down four classmates.

Numbers of Mon County parents, in fact, rallied the school district following that incident, pushing for metal detectors to be installed here.

The devices arrived a month before Uvalde.

A total of 19 students and two teachers died in shootings in May at an elementary school in the Texas town.

Now, the devices are in place at Mon’s three public high schools, which welcomed students back this past Tuesday for the first day of classes.

Officials reported smooth-going, for the most part.

Band instruments still trip the devices. So do the hinges on the lids of the Chromebook laptop computers that come standard in the district.

“Give us a week,” Deputy Superintendent Donna Talerico said. “Then it will be routine.”

Even if the external circumstances that led to the buy are anything but, she said.

Portability and ease of use made them attractive to the district, said Adam Henkins, who oversees Mon Schools’ divisions of Safe and Supportive Schools and Athletics.

Concert promoters, the NFL and Major League Baseball all use detectors from the same company, he said.

“You’re looking at crowds of 60,000-70,000 people, moving quick,” he said.

And, he said, they don’t have to be in a permanent, fixed position to work — which is why the district is going to deploy them at various other schools and venues this fall.

The idea, he said, is to eventually purchase more detectors for Mon’s middle schools.

Test runs at football games are a bonus, too, given the diversity of the crowd, the superintendent added.

“We might have them at South Middle School or out at UHS for a football game,” Campbell said.

“This is just one more layer for our kids. That’s our job: To keep them safe.”

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