HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- The new school year starts in less than a month, and preparing for it now requires more than supplies and curriculums.
Part of that preparation includes proper training for the possibility of an active-shooting incident, which the Harris County Department of Education has been providing quarterly for the past five years.
Some of those classes have only contained four or five people, but Thursday's session was at capacity - in part because of May's mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
"This class has changed significantly since Uvalde," Julia Andrews of the Harris County Department of Education said. "(It's) because of the response and the preparation beforehand."
Eighty-one educators, some from as far away as Austin Independent School District, attended the class that was taught by Sgt. Jeff McGowen, who is currently with Aldine ISD's police department after decades with the Harris County Sheriff's Office.
McGowen started teaching these classes after Columbine in 1999 and said the sessions have evolved over that period of time.
"What you'll see is that you have some of the same challenges that we had back then," he explained. "The big change is how we respond as law enforcement, and some of the changes they've made inside of schools to make them safer."
For example, he discussed how law enforcement used to wait for the SWAT team to arrive before they'd go after an active shooter, as well as going over some of the camera systems and equipment schools have started purchasing over the years.
The class taught educators how to look for the signs of an active shooter, as well as what to do in an active shooting situation.
McGowan, as well as educators who attended the seminar, said all tools are needed to keep students, teachers, and staff safe.
"I'm here to make sure I can do all I can for my students, and all other students, mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally for their safety," Tameka Martin with Splendora ISD said. "Kids today have a lot that they're processing in their brains, but we want to make sure we are building those relationships and connecting with those students so we know what's going on in their minds."
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