Local School District to Examine Safety Procedures after CT Shooting

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

Any parent has to be thinking about whether their own child is safe at school in the wake of Friday's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

School districts across the country, and in North Central Wisconsin are taking a closer look at school safety plans as a result.

School is supposed to be a safe place, where children are free to learn, explore and play with their peers. But after Friday's horrifying shootings of 20 young children and six educators, the idea of being safe in school was called into question.

"We are doubly sensitive about those that take place here in our schools," said Don Stevens, superintendent of Merrill Area Public Schools. "I think it causes us to every time this happens to think about what safety initiatives we have created, what practices, procedures."

Stevens says as the country grieves, he and other administrators will be examining every inch of the district's emergency plans and security features. They plan to meet Tuesday.

"The safety of our children really is our number one concern we have," he said.

Each school has its own safety plan, and principals are in charge of making sure practice drills are enforced, including drills on what to do if an uninvited guest enters the building.

"If there is an intruder we immediately go into a lockdown and we have practiced that and the staff knows what to do," said Paul Klippel, principal at Washington Elementary School.

Along with emergency safety plans, every school has other security features, including locked doors. Some have security cameras, and a police liaison officer spends time at schools, though most of that time is at the high school and middle school.

"We are very vigilant about protecting who comes in and out of our buildings," Stevens said.

Despite the heavy hearts, Monday was a typical day for students at Washington Elementary.

Now, along with providing the children a good education, teachers and staff must also assure them they are safe while getting it.

"We are a safe building and we do things to protect the children here," Klippel said. "If they have questions or concerns that there's people here that they can talk to about what their concerns are."

Several other area school districts are also assuring parents that they're doing everything they can to keep students safe.

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