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Election Day safety at schools

All over the country, people are heading to the polls to cast their ballots. Many of these locations are at area schools where regular classes are being held.

As with any day at school, the safety of the students is paramount.

In Bannock County, the Pocatello/Chubbuck District 25 schools are adding security measures while temporarily eliminating the use of others.

At the start of the school year, the district instituted a new “Safe Schools: All day, Every Day” program that requires any visitor show photo ID before entering the school. But they aren’t using that system today. In fact, they aren’t checking ID’s at the door at all.

The district did hire security guards who were told to check ID’s this morning, but they stopped after the district received several voter suppression complaints.

All voters do still have to provide ID to cast their ballots.

In addition to the security guards, a Pocatello Police Officer is also on duty in the schools today. At Lewis and Clark Elementary it’s Sgt. Chad Horst, who was not a fan of the ID checks stopping.

“I think that for the safety of the kids that we should be continuing the process,” Horst explained.

This election, in particular, is expected to draw the largest turnout in years. With large crowds expected at the Precinct 14 polls, Lewis and Clark Principal Nichole Garza was frustrated that one step of the security was taken away, but was grateful to have both a security guard and police officer in the building.

“I think anytime you have extra security in your school, at this day and age, makes you feel safer,” Garza said. Especially on days like this, when many of the people coming to campus are unfamiliar faces.

Weeks before the election, Garza and other members of the district are working to figure out the logistic of how the polling will be held. Location, scheduling and security measures are among the talking points.

Today, Garza has worked out a schedule that will keep the kids from moving around too much. “Just so they’re not interacting as much with the public, just cause we don’t know who everybody is,” Garza said.

And although the school has abandoned the intercom security system for the day, Garza is thankful for the added security that the county is granting.

“They have that same vision of “Safe Schools: All Day Every Day” that we have because really that’s just keeping our learners safe and in an environment where they feel safe, is the most important thing,” Garza said.

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