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May 6, 2010

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Police add muscle to beefed-up security in Shanghai's schools

SHANGHAI police strengthened patrols around schools yesterday, the first class day after the May Day break.

The increased security occurred after dozens of students were attacked at schools across the country last week.

The Shanghai Public Security Bureau has asked police officers to reach schools 10 minutes before classes begin or end.

Extra security staff, including teachers and community volunteers, also stood guard at schools yesterday.

"We feel much relief with police at the school gates," said a mother surnamed Yang who sent her son, 5, to a kindergarten in suburban Songjiang District yesterday.

The spate of campus bloodshed has highly alarmed Chinese parents, who usually have only one child under the family-planning policy.

Some parents watched children enter schools and waited outside for some time yesterday.

"Several schools have too many people and vehicles passing around the campus," said Yang Yongming, the Shanghai Education Commission's youth protection division director.

"This may cause potential risk to students' safety. We are now studying measures to rectify this," Yang said.

Education authorities paid unannounced visits to 10 schools in three downtown districts - Luwan, Huangpu and Xuhui - early yesterday to check security measures.

"All of them have tighter security measures in place," Yang said.

More than 2,000 police officers have teamed up with schools to guide security work and teach students and teachers safety awareness.

All 3,000-odd Shanghai schools have been equipped with 6,000-plus security guards, surveillance cameras and intruder alarms.

"We are worried that some principals did not inspect school security facilities carefully," Yang said.

The commission has asked principals to pay daily visits to security facilities to ensure they are working properly.

"Not only security guards but also the school's leaders should be familiar with security equipment," he said.

The inspectors held a meeting with officials of district education bureaus, informing them of the check results and asking for improvements.

However, unlike some other cities that have equipped school security guards with pepper spray, anti-cut gloves and steel batons, Shanghai security guards are only required to carry batons on duty.

The commission issued a notice online yesterday calling for tightened campus security measures including intense checks on campuses, especially at entry gates, water tanks and canteens.

Schools are required to open gates on time to prevent students from danger.

Visitors must now register their IDs to enter campuses.


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