Local schools address security concerns after CT shooting - WSMV Channel 4

Local schools address security concerns after CT shooting

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Several school districts in Middle Tennessee have addressed their own security plans following a deadly shooting Friday at a Connecticut elementary school.

Administrators ordered school personnel to check and re-check their safety procedures, lock the doors and ensure they would know how to react in the event of a tragedy at a local school.

For example, at H.G. Hill Middle School, no visitor can enter the building without first being scanned by a camera and buzzed in by a staff member.

Many parents at H.G. Hill said that while the shooting in Connecticut was hundreds of miles away, in the age of social media and 24-hour news, it all felt very close to home and very personal.

"It's just sad. I don't understand it. To take innocent lives like that, it's tragic," said parent Dan Hobb.

"I'm sick to my stomach. I couldn't imagine," said parent Ashley Donald.

Metro Schools said school psychologists and social workers are available to assist students as needed.

In a statement, Metro Schools said:

"We are all shocked and saddened by the tragedy in Connecticut. Our hearts go out to the Newtown school community.

"The safety of our students and staff is our first priority. We have asked principals to double-check their schools to ensure all security safeguards are in effect and we encourage students to notify school staff if they have any reason for concern about safety in their schools. School Resource Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department work in our middle and high schools and we use security cameras and other measures to keep our schools safe.

"Each of our schools has a crisis and emergency response plan that is reviewed and updated annually. In light of today's events, we have asked all principals to review their emergency plans with staff. A clear understanding of emergency procedures improves our ability to respond effectively in the event of an emergency. Metro Schools and local emergency management maintain a strong partnership to help prepare for emergencies.

"Our school psychologists and social workers are available to assist students as needed.

"Schools are often are a good place for children to regain a sense of normalcy. Being with their friends and teachers can help.

"The National Association of School Psychologists has developed tips to help parents talk with children about violence. They are available in English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese. See http://www.nasponline.org for more information."

Williamson County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney also issued a statement:

"Today a horrible event happened in Connecticut resulting in the deaths of many students and employees of an elementary school. We all hurt for the victims and their families.

"Please know that safety for Williamson County students and employees is our highest priority at all times. All campuses have a school safety plan in place which is reviewed, updated and practiced regularly. We have also installed emergency communication systems and digital resources that link directly to law enforcement agencies. In addition, I have been in touch with Sheriff Jeff Long and County Mayor Rogers Anderson who have pledged their support of our proactive approach to school safety.

"While today's incident happened many miles from our district, it is a stark reminder of the importance of our safety protocol including our check-in and check-out process for all students and visitors to campuses. Parents, I ask that you please help us keep our schools safe by following our front office procedures when arriving on campus. Use front entrances only when visiting school and check into the office immediately upon arrival. Also, don't forget to let us know when you are leaving. Media, vendors and other visitors are required to check in as well. All school building entrances are locked throughout the school day and should not be propped open by staff or parents for any reason. These are just a few of the measures we must enforce to help ensure we know who is on campus at all times. While we can never be absolutely protected against all circumstances, we rely on our parents and our trained staff to help us ensure that we enforce our own procedures.

"Please continue to help us by being our eyes and ears on campus and in the community, and report any safety concerns you might have to your school principal. WCS will continue to be proactive and vigilant in our efforts to keep students, employees and visitors safe while on school grounds."

Below are some links to other resources that parents might find helpful:

PBS Parents:

http://www.pbs.org/parents/talkingwithkids/news/talking.html

American Psychological Association:

http://www.apa.org/topics/violence/school-shooting.aspx

National Association of School Psychologists:

http://www.nasponline.org/resources/handouts/revisedPDFs/talkingviolence.pdf

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