Survey: What Is Your School Doing — or Not Doing — In Response to Sandy Hook

Hi Readers! Wondering what’s happening at your local schools, vis a vis more security. My older son’s high school is conducting a lockdown drill today, my younger son’s principal emailed home a comforting note but did not discuss any new procedures.  One reader wrote:

Dear Free-Range Kids: I’m wondering if anyone has contacted or is getting ready to contact their school/district about NOT implementing more security measures in light of Newtown?

Our elementary school has been handling things fairly well in my opinion, but in response to (apparently) repeated questions, the principal sent out a message this afternoon saying that the district in a meeting last month had “already identified concerns regarding our open campuses and is working on plans for fencing and gates to make our campuses more secure.”

Currently our campus cannot be locked down. The individual classrooms can be locked, but not the entire school grounds. A couple of the gates are merely openings in the fence, and they do not lock the students in for the duration of day. (A nearby school, perhaps 4 miles away, does this, so there is area precedent for implementing this kind of procedure.) I really want to know what others have said or what you might say if you were to contact the district urging them NOT to make our students into prisoners. Besides the fact that we don’t have the money to do it, it wouldn’t really help anything.

Lenore here again: I DO encourage schools not to become prisons, for so many reasons, mostly because they’re NOT prisons.  And for the record, Newtown DID have a buzzer-only admission policy, but the gunman shot his way in.

I remember the story about a child disciplined for holding the door open for his teacher, because no one was supposed to do that for anyone, even a teacher with her hands full. And this one, about a tiny day care center in a church, where all available funds were spent on a PIN number security system. Or this one, about an even more elaborate security system at a day care center called Lola’s Place: it uses “vascular recognition system” — eyeball reading — to keep strangers out. As I wrote then:

It’s not that I don’t want to see kids safe at preschool. It’s that if we all felt our kids needed this kind of protection, the world of childhood would be in virtual lockdown. Which is where it’s heading.

This view of the world — that kids are likely to be snatched out of pre-schools by criminal masterminds who laugh at a simply locked door — is (not to put too fine a point on it) paranoid-delusional-freakish. But as the article said, Lola’s Place is just the first pre-school to employ this system. The company is thinking about  New York, L.A. and D.C. next.

Then, perhaps, your town.

Then perhaps they’ll want to wire your house.

Then perhaps they’ll suggest you erect a nice, friendly,  fenced-in, razor wired, armed guard protected sandbox.

After all, “You can’t be too safe.”

Or can you? — Lenore

 

131 Responses to Survey: What Is Your School Doing — or Not Doing — In Response to Sandy Hook

  1. Maresi December 18, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    My son’s school principal sent home a note saying that the county was reviewing safety and security procedures. I felt like it was appropriate and not over the top.

  2. Afrodite December 18, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    My son’s school contacted us yesterday stating the new rules put in place regarding door entrances/exits and pass codes reset effective immediately. There will be only one entrance (closest to the office). My son’s school is less than 20 miles away.

  3. Wendy December 18, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    I live in New York City. The Department of Education here has school safety officers at the door. One is required to sign in and provide ID. Other than that, it’s a free for all. I can go anywhere in the school, have guns in my large bag… no one checks. The schools here are pretty safe, at least in my neighborhood. My son’s school only checked in with the emotional issues some are facing due to Sandy Hook, nothing more. That’s the way things should be, to continue, and to work for reform.

  4. J Steinberg (@DEHausfrau) December 18, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    The robo call from our elementary principal yesterday advised that they had done a walk-through and checked all the potential entrances; pick-up for after-school activities will now occur in the front vestibule as opposed to parents picking up in the cafeteria; the door from the front vestibule to the school will be locked starting at 8:50 with the only way to get into the building being through the main office. Frankly, it doesn’t sound much different then what happens now with the exception of the front door.

  5. Beth/Mom2TwoVikings December 18, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    No idea what the local schools are doing – the teachers are about to go on strike and we homeschool now after awful bullying last year. But, as a junior high teacher by training, I’m not sure any amount of security will keep people *always* save *all* the time!

  6. Caleeo December 18, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    I have not been made aware of any security measures at my daughter’s school. The doors are unlocked and generally unattended by school personnel. I hope it does not change.

  7. Marcy December 18, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    My district called parents to say they were checking on security measures, but those are already adequate. Passcodes on doors don’t do much when you can shoot that door down.
    What I liked was that the elementary school knows some kids do not know about the shooting. Their parents don’t want to talk to them about it much. So the school is honoring that and NOT making a fuss. They are purposely not freaking kids out. Good call.

  8. Alison December 18, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    We got an email saying they will add more lockdown drills. I think that’s more than enough. I feel that they HAD to do something to appease the parents that want them to do something, if that makes sense. Personally I think we all just go along in our lives-perhaps we are now more aware of our surroundings or things that seem “off”, but you can’t live your whole life in fear. These tragedies are too beyond our control.

  9. Filioque December 18, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    My kids’ school did nothing and said nothing to parents, and I was frankly glad. They already have a security-camera-and-buzz-in system, which annoys me sometimes, but it’s somewhat understandable because the building is 100 years old, and the office is up a flight of stairs instead of right by the front door.

    It’s a Catholic school, and our kids always seem to find out about world events, natural disasters, etc., during morning prayers when everyone takes turns announcing their prayer intentions for the day. I was really surprised when they didn’t come home asking about the shooting yesterday.

  10. Larry December 18, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Our school district overacted, locking down all the schools. What upsets me is that they did this unilaterally without any “outcry from the community”, or public forum to discuss.

    They reacted as if this was an immediate threat. That some lunatic was going to see what happen in Connecticut and run to a local school and do the same.

    The schools in our district are slowly becoming prisons. I wrote the superintendent today to express my displeasure.

  11. Ali Frates December 18, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    We got a letter from the school district/town/PD stating that they would be reviewing all safety policies, but that they are confident in the procedures they currently have in place. I feel this response, as well as the measures currently used in my kids’ elementary school are appropriate.

  12. t December 18, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    Received this e-mail during the school day yesterday. The subject line was “We’re having a great day”.

    Dear Parents,

    Thank you for sending your children to school today. Kids and staff are in great spirits, and it’s a normal, happy day for us.

  13. Denise Schipani December 18, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    Our schools are very much the way I hear Sandy Hook described; after the school day starts, the outside doors are locked and you have to be buzzed in by the receptionist if you arrive later than 9:05, or any other time during the day. But people come and go from the school all the time. If I’m up there for a meeting with the teacher, I’ll see parents, teachers and staff coming in and out the front door in a constant stream. It’s a very busy place. I trust that they love and care for my kids, of course, and the principal sent out a robo call saying the staff was there for anyone who needed to talk, etc., and that they take safety and security very seriously, which I appreciate. They have and practice various safety drills with the kids. I don’t see what else they can do. If a crazed gunman wanted to shoot through the door, of course he could. But I don’t fear that.

    I don’t enjoy the horrible grief I’m feeling for those families in Newtown, but if I started to also feel fearful for my children, I’d be in a bad, bad place and I won’t go there.

  14. mamajoan December 18, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    My kids’ school, for the most part, has just reiterated their security measures already in place, and urged everyone to actually follow them, where some things had become lax. For example, parents aren’t supposed to be wandering around the building without a pass; people are urged not to open the outside doors to someone they don’t know; and so forth. The school committee is going to “review” citywide school-security practices, but they clearly state that this doesn’t necessarily mean anything will change. And the notices we’ve gotten from our principal have for the most part focused on kids’ feelings and how to support and reassure them, which I think is appropriate. Overall I feel it has been handled well.

  15. lapsan December 18, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    My daughters school discussed Sandy Hook over the intercom at morning announcements. Then they ran the entire school, one classroom at a time, through lock-down procedures. My daughter knew nothing about Sandy Hook. She found out over morning announcements, as did many other children at her school. Some of them became quite concerned and were worried about things after school.

    The combination of the lock-down practice and the announcement bothers me. School should feel like a safe place. I doubt that the “feeling” of security was made stronger yesterday.

  16. Julie Z. Rosenberg December 18, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    I was very satisfied with my son’s public elementary school here in Brooklyn. Here’s what the letter said that was sent home yesterday (for privacy issues, I omitted the name of the school and staff member names):

    “I am sure you all join me in expressing sorrow and dismay at the events that unfolded Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. As caregivers to young children, we are now all faced with questions about the event and in particular how it may affect our children, both emotionally and in terms of safety here at school.

    Let me first assure you that PS XX has a number of safety protocols in place for every conceivable emergency situation. Our students and staff practice safety drills routinely, to make sure that everyone knows what to do if something unexpected occurs. As time passes, the trauma of this recent tragedy will lessen, but not our commitment to your child’s safety. We will continue to follow our planned schedule of safety drills. If you would like to know more about these drills, please contact our parent coordinator or School Counselor.

    Regarding our reaction as a staff to student concerns and questions, I have met with our school counselors, and as a school community, we will not be raising the topic at all. If a child brings us questions, we will be encouraging them to speak to you at home. Please see the helpful links below to guide you in these conversations. If you would like to speak to our School Social Worker or School Counselor, know that they are here to answer your questions as always.

    We will continue to follow our positive, daily classroom routines, to offer hugs and smiles and support to our students, demonstrating by our own demeanor that we are a safe and loving environment for our children.

  17. Jennifer Hansen December 18, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    My son is in Kindergarten and we have heard nothing about changes in a security policy and I am totally fine with that. He is too young to know about Sandy Hook, in my opinion, and I don’t need him to needlessly worry about security at the age of 5. You can walk into the front door of his school but the office is right there. Granted, you can just walk past the office but you can’t get into any of the classrooms because they are all individually locked. On the first few days of school when things are confusing and new parents aren’t recognized, I had teachers or other staff members ask me where I was going and once I said my son was in Kindergarten, they knew I had the right to be in the school to pick up my child. Frankly, I am happy our school isn’t in a tizzy about all of this. While it was a tragic and heart crushing event at Sandy Hook, I don’t think we need to freak out and put everyone on lock down. The gunman is dead afterall. He can’t hurt anyone else. And yes, there are other ‘bad guys’ out there. But what is the likely hood of it happening to my sons school? Slim to none.

  18. Beth December 18, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    One thing I think has been proven – tragedy is not prevented by fingerprinting and background-checking parents who want to volunteer at their kid’s class party.

    And boy, do I wish we could come up with a better word than “lockdown”. Schools are not prisons and the increasing use of prison terms really bothers me. What did schools do in the 60’s and 70’s when bad things were happening right outside its doors?

  19. pentamom December 18, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    I saw in the paper that the elementary schools robocalled the parents telling them that the buzzer system already in place during school hours would be strictly maintained. As my kids are in high school, apparently they’re doing nothing different. They already a have a buzzer system that’s used only between the opening and closing bells — otherwise, there are multiple entrances. I think the doors are always locked from the inside (so anyone can go out, but not in) after the opening bell unless there’s a public event scheduled in the evening, but students and staff are permitted to open doors to let people in before and after school hours.

    I know permitting school personnel to be armed is controversial, but even without that, I can’t help thinking that a couple of generations ago, in a school where teenagers and adult men were present, at least, shooters would have been tackled even at severe risk to the people doing the tackling. (If you rush someone with enough guys, he can’t shoot them all.) That doesn’t seem to happen anymore — I wonder if all this lockdown stuff is literally teaching kids and adult staff to cower in helpless fear?

  20. Rhonda December 18, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    The district where I teach (first grade) sent parents an email and robo call message that was more focused on how to discuss the situation with children so as to reduce their anxiety. Other than that, we have secure entrances, an ID check-in system, and a few lockdown drills per year. Nothing new is planned…except maybe getting more than one exterior door key per 6-10 teachers. Right now we share and therefore doors are often propped open. Still not a huge issue, but it might change now.

  21. eric December 18, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    Our district is doing nothing different. The reviewed the safety procedures, and reminded staff the only reason these would not work, is if we did not follow them. So they reminded us to follow those steps. simple. effective

  22. Alison December 18, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    wanted to update mine. my husband just got back from dropping the kids off at school. He said all the schools had police officers in front (in their cars) and at the high school where my little one attends preschool he had to sign in and there were extra security guards. My husband is a federal agent and he agrees that these “extra precautions” are basically a waste of resources. He said it is obvious the officers aren’t taking it seriously-if they were they would be out of their cars and actually paying attention. Direct quote “the easiest place to kill a cop is in his own car”. But he did say that the police presence could be a deterrent to a less motivated killer!

  23. ank December 18, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    My kids preschool already has a keypad for entering. HOWEVER, you ring the door bell and they just open the door. So how secure is it really? Personally, it’s perfectly secure. But parents like feeling secure, which is really what this is all about…but there hasn’t actually been any talk about CT, as far as I can tell.

  24. Lyndsay December 18, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    My kids’ day care sent out the following:
    “In the aftermath of yet another senseless school shooting, it’s impossible not to ask how we can prevent this from happening again. All of us would love to guarantee our children’s safety but guarantees are not possible. Be reassured, however, that Rainbow Academy has some of the most advanced security systems and procedures in the childcare industry and we continue to seek even better solutions.

    A reminder of some of these may help to make you feel more comfortable during this stressful time:
    All centers have biometric finger scanning for authorized building access.
    We have limited entry points into the center all of which are locked and/or have coded keypads
    Entrances into the building are recorded.
    A silent alarm system is in place throughout the building and is accessible to the staff.
    Fire drills and evacuations are practiced on a regular basis and offsite evacuation sites have been established for all centers with area business or other spaces.

    Obviously it is impossible to eliminate risk completely, but common sense measures can be maintained to help ensure a secure environment. Your cooperation is imperative for these systems to work effectively.

    What can you do?
    1) NEVER hold the door open for ANYONE. Doing so, is a breach of security and also means that a child has not been properly logged into the system and may not be accounted for in the case of a fire drill or evacuation.
    2) Keep your list for “authorized pickup” updated and avoid sending anyone who is not authorized to the center to get your child. They will not be admitted until proper authorization and identification is received.
    3) Don’t give your code out to anyone. If they are on the Authorized Pickup List, they can receive their own code.
    4) Enter and exit the building ONLY through the front door.
    5) Report any suspicious activity to the Center Director immediately.

    As parents, we all share the pain and deep sorrow for the tragic loss experienced by the families in Newtown, Connecticut. Together we will get through this difficult time and hopefully discover more ways to keep our families safe. If there were ever a time to hug your child a little longer, now is that time. It is with a heavy heart that we all extend our thoughts and prayers to the victims, family members and first responders affected by this tragedy. May all schools be sanctuaries of safety and learning.”

    Being a place full of people who can’t necessarily talk, security was already pretty tight and I’ve never questioned whether or not my kids were safe there. I’m pretty sure the only defense these kids will have against a gun toting maniac who forces his way in will not be locks or biometric scanners or cameras, but the loving, quick thinking adults around them.

  25. socalledauthor December 18, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    The principal where I work sent out a letter that reiterated the safety procedures. And then gave us lanyards and other things to actually wear our badges.

    Except we don’t really have much for safety protocols. We don’t have any hall monitors, let alone security guards or passcodes on the doors. Wouldn’t much matter because someone could just say they were there to go to the administrative offices or there for a community class or something with the school board. And yet, classes go on in that building as they have on-and-off since 1928.

  26. KimZ December 18, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    I was VERY pleased at our school board’s response. We live in Canada but this is a tragedy of children that touches everyone.
    We received an email from the Director of Education from our board . He expressed our board’s sympathy to Sandy Hook.
    It stated the safety of students is the highest priority they work with police to implement measures. Lock down drills have been implemented and there are protocols in place for tragedies/ER coordinated with the school board and police.
    Flags were at half mast yesterday. No school announcement was to be made to “allow parents to determine how to the address this issue at home. Our principals and teachers will respond to student concerns as they arise, and have been given resources to do so.”

    We don’t even lock our home doors sometimes. There was a principal who wanted to lock the front door a few years ago and there was a back lash in our community. We want access to our children and the school. (My opinion then as now if someone really wanted to get in then a locked door would not prevent them)

  27. Jennifer Merck December 18, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    I am the PTA President at our elementary school. Over the weekend, I e-mailed our Principal with some questions I had regarding current procedures. Last night, he used the questions as a framework for a letter to parents on the school website: http://www.cusd200.org/236320106144939273/site/default.asp

    The questions are quite specific and practical, but not focused on changes, rather asking for clarification on current practices.

    I shared your post about the 1927 event with the Principal, Lenore. I think he resonates with the idea that we are already protecting our children quite well. I don’t anticipate any safety or security policy or procedure changes, only clarification of existing policies and procedures, both from a District and building level.

  28. JSL December 18, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    My child goes to a small community school in an urban center. We have no intercom, and parents are welcome in the school at the beginning and end of each day. For the primary grades most kids are brought to their classroom by a parent who has a chance to check in with the teacher and talk to other parents. By the time kids are in grade 4 they are generally walking to school alone or are dropped off at the front of the school or in the playground.

    All doors are locked except for the front door, so those entering walk past the office. I hope nothing changes. I really feel like having a lot of adults in the building increases safety and parents feel like they are part of the community as well.

  29. Laura December 18, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Here in CA, our school district superintendent sent out a very nice, rationial email expressing condolences and ending with this;

    This is a good time for parents to discuss with their children the importance of speaking to a trusted adult concerning matters that they hear about in the media and online. If you need additional resources, please contact your school site.
    In closing, I would like to assure you that our staff members are vigilant about supervising students during the school day and have been trained to handle campus safety, security, and student needs.

  30. pentamom December 18, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    Just one simple question: are any of these procedures that these schools have in place going to keep out a guy who physically blasts his way through a locked door with a gun?

    If not, then any or most of these measures might be good in themselves to prevent various kinds of problems, but they are absolutely USELESS as a “response” to what happened in Newtown.

  31. Cherub Mamma December 18, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    I spent the day in a Facebook fight on the page of the school district where I grew up. No, I don’t live there now, but I’d give anything for a job to open up in that very small community in Central Iowa for my husband so we could move back. In the meantime, I could not keep my opinions to myself as I watched the panic unfold.

    Keep in mind, this is a small community rural school district. They announced, via their FB page that in response to the CT incident ALL doors to EVERY school (elementary, middle & high school) would be locked. They do not have a buzzer system in place. Instead, parents, volunteers and staff members are expected to stand outside the school and call in on their cell phones in order to be let in the building. (Yes, they expect every single person in the community that might have business at the school to carry a cell phone now.) After the person needed access to the school phones in, the secretary is expected to leave her desk and go open the door.

    I am thoroughly disgusted that they felt the need to overreact in this manner. At the school meeting held last night (after the fact) they also discussed adding bullet proof glass and other over the top “precautions”.

    My opinion was met with favor on the “discussion” by about half a dozen people. However, the majority of the comments (dozens and dozens and dozens) were parents thanking the school for doing something to keep their kids safe. Every freak-out over the top response you can imagine was a part of the “discussion”. Several even went so far to say that I should be ashamed of myself for thinking that the school’s response was not a good one. Only because this is a small community where everybody knows your name did they not say I should lose my kids to CPS. LOL

    Down here in Texas where I’m at now, nothing happened. No robo call from the school. No notes sent home. No nothing. And for that I am extremely grateful!!

  32. Warren December 18, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    Our school sent home letters suggesting that we have a sit down with our kids to discuss the shooting. They have yet to show signs of doing anything safety wise.

    As for the suggestion, I informed the school of a few basic ideals.
    1. We are in Ontario, Canada, far removed from the state in which this happened.
    2. We do not allow our kids to becomes slaves to the media circus, around such events.
    3. This is not a life altering or changing event for our kids, and we do not intend to make it so.
    4. Our kids, while sympathetic to the victims, treated this as any other news item. And that is just fine with us.
    5. They talk to us, and if any questions arise, they will be answered at that time.

  33. Mike in Virginia December 18, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    It is very hard to learn when you are distracted. Feeling insecure is a huge distraction. Locks on the doors, drills, safety procedures, etc., might add some measure of actual safety, but they do create the feeling of being less safe. After all, why are you practicing a lock-down drill if there is no danger? This reminds me of the drills they used to do in the 50s to prepare kids for nuclear threats. Hiding under the desk might offer some very small protection from falling debris, but will do nothing to save the kids from a nuclear blast or the fallout. I’m sure those drills were quite the distraction, however. I am curious to hear the perspectives of people who went through that.

  34. Puzzled December 18, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    Our society has an apparently incurable, and probably fatal, allergy to the concept of a trade-off. Nothing is too much for our children’s safety – but we need unemployment of 0% and ever-increasing housing prices, too, and a stock market that never goes down, and a strong dollar for imports. None of these contradictory demands is negotiable.

    For all those saying the schools aren’t prisons – they are. They were even before they were referred to by prison terminology. To me, a prison is a place a person must go, without their consent, for correction of their pre-existing state. Our children are sentenced to school for the crime of being children.

  35. Christina December 18, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Our boys’ school at first made what I considered an appropriate response of sending out a reminder to discuss the tragedy away from very little ears and suggestions about how to discuss the events with older children. Then, apparently, the panicked phone calls from parents began and now we are getting assurances that security measures are being reviewed, new ones implemented and (my favorite) the rather forbidding phrase that the school can’t share all of its security measures for the sake of security. Ugh. Thanks for reminding me I need to respond to that email (yeah, I tend to be the fly in the ointment).

  36. Kelly December 18, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Daycare had notices (lots of text, mostly just skimmed it) about their safety policy and reminding people not to give their kids the door code and such. I assume it was a response to Sandy Hook but they do it occasionally anyway.

    I get the impression that the door code is more to enforce that kids aren’t allowed to leave without permission than any sort of real safety. I’ve never seen anyone not hold the door for someone. We picked the daycare because they seemed more laid back about things and willing to let the kids play and have fun. I hope that the schools end up being as reasonable when we get to that point.

  37. Steph_Sikorski December 18, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    My gut is wrenched.
    My 3rd graders brought home a note about increased security. How parents must show ID. How I can come into the school without an appointment AND Facebook was riddled with teachers commenting on how they now keep their classroom doors locked!

    Lock MY kid in a classroom????

    The principal assured me they are trying their best and safety is the main concern.

    Why does it feel like our schools are turning into prisions? Isn’t this where my daughters are to learn and grow? Laugh and love? Make memories and have fun?

    Of course I want them to be safe. But locking them IN a classroom and locking me OUT is not the answer.

    Mark my words, if parents stay locked out our students will suffer. Parent involvment in their child’s education will drop and we will all pay a price.

  38. M December 18, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    @Cherub Mamma, Wow… just a bit of over reaction! As one side effect, guessing that school doesn’t expect any supplier or courier to do deliveries – no delivery/courier person I have dealings with would call on a cell to say here I am, let me in….

  39. Allison December 18, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    The parents’ listserve in my community is *on fire* with demands to lock down all of our schools. There was even a comment that it’d be worth spending whatever it takes to hire 22 additional police officers (we have 22 schools) if it could mean that a single life might be saved. Sigh… Lenore, I need you and this blog more than ever!

  40. Kathy Clevnger December 18, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    Unfortunately fear is running wild over our nation to protect our children from evil. I am very concerned how it will effect our children if this fear isn’t put into check quickly. Keep questioning new policies and continue to be a voice of reason.

  41. Jessi December 18, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    I happened to be at my sons elementary school yesterday and took the chance to talk with the principal expressing my concern that they would put in even MORE security. Right now, they have one unlocked door where people entering can’t be missed by the office.
    The principal assured me that they will not be adding to what they currently have. That it’s as safe as anything can be without becoming a prison. She also noted that, just like your house, if someone wants in, they’ll get in. She also commented that the reality is that while they could lock the school down, someone could just as easily shoot kids on the playground, or getting on the bus. I love that our principal is so realistic!
    My children came home with a paper that outlined the current safety procedures at each school as well as district policy to reassure parents. All in all, I’m happy with my districts (lack of?) response!!

  42. Jim Collins December 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    I found it ironic that our school district announced last Wednesday that they were allowing the School Police to carry guns.

    I really don’t have a problem with that, if there is a good plan and training for the faculty to go along with it.

  43. SA December 18, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    Our private school about an hour from Newtown had a completely open campus. Visitors were supposed to sign in, but doors were always unlocked. Friday night, they sent home a reasonable message stating that their staff was well trained, vigilant, and responsive, key personnel carry two-ways with them at all times during the day, security and crisis plans are reviewed regularly, and occasional lock-down drills are performed. I hoped this was it.

    Nope. Sunday, we get a note about how all but one door will be open after drop-off ends, there will be a security guard in that main hall, and anyone coming outside the hours of drop-off and pick-up will need to sign in at the front desk. This is a campus where even the three-year-olds change buildings frrequently throughout the day. Once in first grade, the kids were expected to walk and from specials and lunch on their own. When dismissed, they made their own way to the parking lot. Yesterday,I was told that the policy is now that no child can be unattended, even the NINTH graders. The children at Sandy Hook were attended IN THEIR LOCKED SCHOOL. M

    I have written to the head master and the head of my kids’ division. Until Friday, this was a great free-range school. Recess can only be cancelled by the school nurse, the playground is not fenced in, there are men teaching junior kindergarten and kindergarten and they are often seen to have kids physically hanging all over them. There are weekly hikes, rain or shine. There’s a pond. With BOATS. And they let the kids USE the boats. MWe sought private school in part because we didn’t want our kids locked into a school. The headmaster said that as a parent, he agreed with me 100%, but as a headmaster, he had to do something. I have often heard parents complain that security here is too lax (I disagree). They think first graders should not be allowed to walk to class by themselves (there are helpers along the way). The playground should be fenced (it’s nowhere near a road). I’ve even heard them say they should sell some of the 75 acres of land because “how can you secure something that big?”. I worry that this tragedy has opened a door for pressure to build to “do something”. The headmaster and head of my kids’ school say they are committed to keeping the spirit of the school alive. I’m resigned to seeing changes I might not like, but hoping that they come back to saner middle ground. I worry where it all stops. My kids were as safe on Thursday as they were yesterday.

  44. LRH December 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Our school has always been very hands-off and easy-going, it’s a small school with one campus for K-12. I have always loved how I can just go there & drop off or pick up whatever, and not have the police everywhere hassling or hovering over me. The front desk lady sees me, tells me where to go, and I just do it.

    I expressed my concerns to the principal, and unfortunately they will be meeting about how to change some things. I already expressed my concerns, & even got the mailing address for writing to the school superintendent. I’ve also written a letter to the editor of our local school newspaper. I’ve also told them of the Bath School Disaster and people, as expected, have been shocked to hear of the details of that (how it’s the largest-ever school massacre, that almost no guns were involved, the perpetrator was the treasurer of the school board, and it happened all the way back in 1927).

    Can someone help me? I am working on my letter to the superintendent, and I would like some guidance on how to write it. For years people have complimented me on my writing ability, but even so, I want to make sure I get this right. I want to submit it in the next day or two before school lets out, and I want it to really get their attention and sound professional and intelligent.

    LRH

  45. LRH December 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Correction: I wrote to the CITY newspaper, not the SCHOOL newspaper.

    Again, any help with my intended letter is appreciated. The one person who wrote a letter–if you could post it here, in “form letter” style, just to give me an idea how to go with this, I’d really appreciate it.

    In fact, I think ALL of us would. I think ALL of us should be writing our school superintendent about this topic. I guarantee you 99.4% of what they’re hearing is from parents & others pressuring them to STEP UP their security. They need to hear our voice. And don’t forget to bring up the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_school_disaster"Bath School Disaster reference as well.

    LRH

  46. PDX December 18, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    When I was in school, lunch recess was called “lockout” recess. That’s because the teachers sent us out to the playground (open to the street) and locked the doors behind us — so they could have their lunch break. There were no adults on the playground at all.

    Now we have “lockdown” instead of “lockout”. So sad.

  47. Sarah December 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    I grew up in the LA area and we have had armed security officers and metal detectors at the door since I was a kid in the 90’s (way pre-columbine). I remember participating in lockdown drills in the late 80’s. This is due to the gang culture. Interestingly enough we have never had any columbine/ sandy hook style shootings, even with all the socio-economic problem and gang violence. Although I know that an event like that is rare to start out with, I am guessing a school filled with armed security officers is not a sociopaths first pick.

  48. MLSW December 18, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Quote from Chris Spence, director of education for the Toronto District School Board, from an article in the Toronto Star:
    “Turning our schools into fortresses is not the answer to keeping our children safe, however. The answer is people. We have to continue building close relationships with our community — whether it’s students, staff, parents, police or other community members. After all, we may live in Canada’s largest city, but it’s made up of communities of people.

    To parents, I will say this — your children are safe. Doors are locked, cameras are on, and other security measures are in place. But most importantly, with close to 40,000 staff at the TDSB, you will always have tens of thousands of moms, dads, sisters and brothers looking out for them.”

  49. Filioque December 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Sarah’s comment brings to mind a question I’ve been wanting to know since the Columbine shootings: Why do these school shootings always seem to happen in mostly white, suburban, privileged schools? I’m sure there are exceptions, but the inner-city schools that are usually seen as quite dangerous seem impervious to these kinds of incidents. Why is that?

  50. Andrew December 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    What happens if the fire alarm goes off while a school is in “lockdown”?

    It is difficult, particularly at a time like this, but everyone needs to keep a sense of proportion. One thing that is guaranteed is that everyone alive now will die, sooner or later, and it is impossible to be perfectly safe. If a maniac with a gun wants to kill people then it is going to be very difficult to stop him.

    How many children have died in road traffic accidents since last Friday? How many police officers are killed with their own weapons each year?

  51. Mel December 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    Our elementary school is already a locked campus, with only one way in during the school day which is through the main office. Everyone who goes in has to sign in and out. The two gates are locked as soon as school begins and not unlocked until 5 minutes before school lets out. Our principal had the sheriff’s office at the school Friday afternoon conducting a walk through to figure out where further improvements could be made. They have lockdown drills already on a fairly regular basis. I have been present for these drills as a parent volunteer and always felt that thee measures were as secure as they can be without making the kids feel imprisoned. I am hoping they keep the present system in place and do not have any knee jerk reactions. Thus far, the superintendent has sent reassuring messages that reiterate the procedures already in place.

    There is no neat little box for horrors like this. I think it is human nature to want to know what we can do, but the reality is that there is only so much we can do. People who do this kind of thing are unpredictable. Somewhere in their lives, they lost the connection with what makes us human. Our ability to empathize, to connect, to feel for our fellow human beings. Evil does exist, and sometimes the manifestations are beyond what we can imagine. The pain of losing a loved one like this is indescribable.

  52. Beth December 18, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    @Steph Sikorski – what happens if a child, locked in his classroom, needs to go to the bathroom during class? Does he have to knock when he gets back? Does he need to be escorted by someone? Are the bathrooms locked too?

    This all makes no sense and will not prevent anything.

  53. Irene December 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    We live in CT about an hour from Newtown. Our elementary school has had a state trooper parked in the parking lot at drop-off and pick-up times which is just a sad reminder for ME. No changes have been made to security although yesterday, when a smoke detector malfunctioned and the fire dept. had to respond, a memo was sent home to explain/reassure parents. Frankly I think after a certain point security is an illusion, we all live in houses with glass windows which are pretty easy to break! If an utterly mentally insane person who happens to have lots of guns wants to get in, they’re gonna get in. We must relax and hug our children.

  54. Sarah December 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    Filioque- I am half Hispanic and half Caucasian and I have to say that the Caucasian side of my family is riddled with mental health issues. While Hispanics and South Americans can certainly be violent, it seems to me that this faulty wiring issue is mostly European.
    I just want to state that I do not like/ want schools to be prisons. Inner city schools have their own unique set of problems to deal with. I purposely live now in an area that is wonderfully free range, my sons school is completely open (in southern CA most of the schools do not have internal corridors, all the classrooms open to the outside, unless it’s too cold or hot most of the teachers keep the door propped open). Biometric screening at any school? Ridiculous. What is not ridiculous is security cameras and campus security officers. Increased police presence during pick up/ drop of to encourage the driving parents to pay attention. These measures are mostly for the deterrent factor. These crazy folk do seem to pick the places where they know that people will be sitting ducks.
    Andrew- I was curious about accidental shooting so I looked it up. 613 in 2007. There were something like 29,000 accidental poisonings in the same period.

  55. Meagan December 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    Our local (Indiana) school corporation & the principal of my son’s school sent emails Friday afternoon reiterating what security policies & procedures are already in place.

    A new system was implemented this year just like the one bypassed by the killer. Now as then I see it as security theater, just like at the airports.

    I keep reminding people who seem poised to go off the deep end of all the millions of school children who came home safe on Friday. Because the world we live in is basically good.

  56. JJ December 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    Once again, we Americans are focusing on the wrong thing. We as a nation are compliant and complacent about giving up all kinds of freedoms and rights—including those related to giving our kids a free-range life, because we think it will protect us. But just as security clearance requirements to attend field day give us a false sense of security, so do the “lockdown” of classrooms, metal detectors or biometric fingerprinting (!) to gain entry at schools. We’re giving up freedom and getting not much for it. It seems that the only rights that many Americans and especially our elected leaders feel strongly against giving up are gun rights—the reform of which is the single factor that is most likely to provide us true protection against violent crime.

    On this site we rightly rely on statistics with “50 children abducted + killed per year” being the one most often quoted. It is just not worth worrying about. Compare that 50 to the nearly 3,000 deaths of children and teens at the hands of guns every year. Now that is something to worry about.

    I appreciate the idea that we shouldn’t let what happened in CT change the way we run or schools or in how “free” we let our children roam. Americans should be outraged not only by what happened in CT, but by the fact that every three hours a child or teen in our country is killed by a gun–and we SHOULD let this affect our attitudes. In my city someone in shot every 7 hours, many of them kids. Gun violence and gun control is a major factor in the free range children equation and anyone who fails to see that is making a big mistake.

  57. linvo December 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    It’s not relevant because we are in Australia, but a lockdown at our school would be impossible. There are no fences at all (kids are free to roam onto the sportsfield at recess) and there are umpteen doors. All with glass in them too.

    I might not have read the details properly and it is too hard to trawl through a zillion articles now, but didn’t the Newtown shooter break glass to get in? I remember it said he bypassed the security door.

    I think, unless you have bulletproof doors and windows, it would be a bit silly to think that you would be able to keep a lunatic like that out by a few fences and doors anyway?

  58. Amy O December 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    I work at an elementary school in a pretty safe, normal section a major city. Our school is just sending a letter home restating our emergency procedures. I don’t think the school was going to do anything at all, but the parents have been talking nonstop and I think it’s the admin’s way of saying we’re fine, let’s move on.

    Two things I would like to mention though:

    One, many other staff members, besides myself, have pointed out that no matter how many safety procedures we have, if a crazy person with a gun wanted to shoot his way into the school there would be nothing to stop him. Whenever anyone asks what we’re “doing in response” I always say nothing really, sometimes bad things just happen. I think this needs to be repeated as often as possible.

    Second point, I’m increasingly amazed at how people take such a tragedy and make it about themselves. Every time someone says “This is terrible” it is immediately followed by “As a parent, I…” I wish there was some way to politely respond, “But it has nothing to do with, so please stop talking about it.” You can really tell after things like this who the narcissists are!

  59. Warren December 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    I was thinking last night, that my kids are almost all done with school, so thank god I won’t have to deal with this crap for much longer.

  60. Brooke December 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    My 5th grade daughter and many of her classmates were LOCKED OUT of their school yesterday. The school decided that they needed to enforce the policy of only having the front door of the school unlocked during the day, and therefore locked all of the other doors. The problem was that (1) they didn’t inform the kids of this change and (2) the playground is in the back of the building.

    So when recess was over, the back door was held open long enough for many of the kids to file in. But my daughter and a couple dozen other kids (with no adults) didn’t make it to the door in time and were locked out. Of course, they managed to find their way around the very large building, to the parking lot, and into the front door.

    Clearly this wasn’t a safer situation for these kids, but at least they got to feel the joy of solving their problem independently, and the adventure of being unsupervised at school for a little while. :)

  61. Johanna Schlegel December 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    I was grateful for our elementary school’s measured response. The principal distributed a memo reiterating the existing security procedures and saying this: “While some children have information about the Connecticut tragedy, many have not been told. It is our hope to honor individual families’ requests in this regard by minimizing the classroom conversations and redirecting them as they occur. Please realize however, children may hear from others during less structured times such as lunch and recess.”

  62. Stephanie December 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    My kids’ school is having a lockdown drill sometime this week, but that was already scheduled. I haven’t heard that they’ll be doing anything else, although I did hang up out of boredom on a recorded call from the district superintendant, after listening for a few minutes.

    What got me today was one of the moms at my youngest daughter’s preschool. She doesn’t want to go anywhere, and was saying she wouldn’t even go to a Walmart on Friday this week because who knows what could happen? I have no idea where she decided that it was likely to become an issue there.

  63. hineata December 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    @Filoque – Catspaw and I were just wondering out loud about the same thing yesterday. It does seem that these mass shootings appear to be in white middle class areas, doesn’t it?

    @Sarah, I’m a bitsa myself, and my kids more so, and it’s interesting that we have the same thing – the European side does seem to have more of a collection of identifiable mental illnesses. That said, the Asian and Maori parts have their own troubles, but these seem to be attributed to what might be termed spiritual issues rather than mental illness – a difference of semantics? Not sure.

    Lenore, our schools here certainly aren’t upping security, as although everyone feels very sad for the victims, the shooting is half the world away and involving what must be a completely different cultural dynamic. The lack of access to suffficient weaponry has so far slowed our teens/young people down from performing these sort of acts, and long may it remain so – we of course have the usual other problems to deal with in schools, drugs, thuggery etc, and those are enough! So what I’m trying to say is that I am glad that so far, even with continual media coverage of this terribly sad event, no one official here is going crazy and using it as an excuse to get paranoid about our schools’ security.

    Just as well, as the latest awful cyclone in Samoa, and rebuilding Christchurch, are lots more relevant places for the Government to be spending resources on at the moment.

  64. Vanessa December 18, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    I got a robo-call from my daughter’s district acknowledging the tragedy and saying that they constantly review their security policies to provide the best environment for the kids. Nothing about specific changes in store. She goes to one of the high schools and they have 2-3 campus security officers on patrol throughout the day + a squad car there at arrival and dismissal time, which already seems like plenty to me.

  65. marie December 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    I wonder if all this lockdown stuff is literally teaching kids and adult staff to cower in helpless fear?

    YES. There is no expectation that anyone be able to defend themselves. I’m not saying that small children should be able to withstand a barrage of bullets, just that the ‘cower and wait for the cops’ solution is foolish. I read that it took 20 minutes for cops to get to Sandy Hook?

    We had a fatal school shooting a couple of years ago in our town, so any suggestion that the schools are going over the top with security measures is, well, not to be done. Tsk tsk.

  66. Chihiro December 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    My school held a candlelight prayer service (Catholic school) where my choir sang ‘Prayer of the Children’ and the principal read off the first names of the victims. Then she reviewed our lockdown procedure and reminded the students that all the doors are locked from the inside during the school day, except for the front door, and there’s always a teacher sitting at a desk up there.
    I thought we took it pretty well.
    I’m going to use the words of my eighth-grade teacher to sum up my thoughts about the new safety measures many schools are now implementing-if someone really wants to get in, they’re going to get in.

  67. Havva December 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    My daughter is in a daycare rather than a school. It is part of a national chain. The monthly newsletter for the center came out and I was a little surprised that they didn’t say a thing. After Hurricane Sandy happened they sent out a “how to talk to your kids” note. This time they didn’t mention it in any emails. I haven’t heard a word of it from anyone during drop of and pickup. Everything is perfectly business as usual.

    For purposes of this survey I decided to check the website. There I did find a “how to talk to your kids about Sandy Hook” note posted. Just as I suspected it was almost exactly the same advice as Hurricane Sandy.

    Pretty much… limit exposure to horrific imagery. Stay calm, if you are calm it will help your child feel safe. They had some advice for if your child asks questions. Mostly captured in this one. “Ask what your child knows and is thinking about; answer his/her questions without over-explaining and providing more details than necessary.”

    No security changes have been hinted at, granted we already have a PIN controlled door. But if the “No solicitation” sign is any indication, the PIN control is just a way to give parents unfettered access with out throwing the door wide open to marketers. They have never chided anyone about holding the door open and they see parents doing it every day.

  68. ECB December 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    I don’t have kids, so obviously I don’t have a school. However, I did read some articles saying that the police in L.A. or around the Pomona area were making plans to step up security in their schools, and that they basically wanted to have a heavier police presence in the elementary schools. It talked about having at least one police officer in all of the schools on some sort of random basis.

    On a related note, has anyone else been reading about Kyle Bangayan, who was arrested in Pomona for allegedly making threats against elementary school children? Apparently he made some remarks on Facebook, and when the police and FBI went to investigate, they found nine guns. Which obviously meant he was guilty. Anyway, he’s being held on charges of possible criminal threatening. Now, I can’t say for certain, since I haven’t been able to find these posts that this guy made, but I don’t get the feeling that another school shooting was averted. It sounded more like he made some very tasteless remarks, and he (or possibly his father) happens to have nine guns. If you Google the articles, they really emphasize the fact that there were nine guns. As though that was more proof of his guilt than, say, having eight guns. As for other evidence, like a map with an elementary school circled with a note saying “do it here”, they haven’t found anything like that as far as I know.

    I literally just Googled this again, and it sounds like they’re not planning on pressing charges due to lack of evidence. I can’t say for sure whether these supposed threats are credible or not, although personally I didn’t think it was serious. What I’m worried about, is that he isn’t the only person who has been arrested for making these kinds of remarks on Facebook. There was mention of at least two teenagers being arrested for saying that they were so sick of hearing about Sandy Hook, that they felt like going out and shooting kids themselves. Not that they planned to do it. That they felt like doing it. I’m pretty sure that nearly everyone here has felt so frustrated at one time or another, that they felt like hurting someone or destroying something. I’m also pretty sure that none of you have actually done so. I’m worried that the people who investigate these sorts of things are unable to tell the difference between people posting stupid and thoughtless things online because they’re stupid and thoughtless, and people who pose a genuine threat. It’s like they’re trying to apply the whole zero tolerance thing to anything that could be interpreted as criminal threatening now.

    Sorry if this post is too long, or if it got too much off the main topic. I’m just really interested to hear what you guys think about all this.

  69. Sarah December 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    JJ- I do agree that we need to take a hard look at our gun laws in the US and determine how we can keep our children safe- unfortunatly it seam like the vast majority of the dialogue is aimed at what people think of as “assult riffles.” Take a look at the statistics in Wikipedia and it seams that almost all gun realated murders are done with hand guns. Lily has some very informitive comments on the Why the Sandy Shooting Feels so Close section that breaks down those numbers that you gave into mostly suicides or drug/gang related violence. Addtionally nearly all homicedes are from illegaly obtained firearms.

  70. Becky December 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    My daughter’s school has decided that all classroom doors should remain locked at all times. The funny thing is that my daughter said the teachers tell them to leave the door open a bit when they leave the room to go to the bathroom. Ummm… wouldn’t the boogie man be able to sneak in during the many bathroom breaks 2nd graders take? A locked door isn’t going to stop crazy. No amount of “security measures” can protect against crazy. No amount of gun laws, no screening procedures, no background checks can protect against crazy. Crazy will find a way. The great thing is that crazy hardly ever happens. So, instead of worrying about crazy, how about we live and enjoy our lives?

  71. Lisa December 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    We got a letter saying we’re safe the way we are, with buzzers and an “old guy” (my words) security guard at each building. Phew! Can’t tell you how happy I am that we’re not implementing anything crazy. Oh, wait, there hasn’t been a PTA meeting yet. I’m sure the up in arms moms will want some changes anyway.

  72. Kimberly December 18, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    1. We got a memo to NOT discuss the tragedy with our elementary students, because many parents sheltered the kids from the knowledge.

    2. Refer all questions about security to the front office.

    3. Teacher reviewed procedures among ourselves, but NO Lock down drills.

  73. Lollipoplover December 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    We got two emails from our school district. As for changes, they are doing nothing different.

    The emails stressed to talk to the kids over the weekend and not sensationalize it. They recommended to limit media exposure. The main message the school district wanted us to convey to our kids is that their school is safe. That shootings at schools are rare. The schools do lockdown drills once a year. This is plenty.

    What I fear is the growing “stirring” of parents to increase the security at elementary schools. Schools should not be operated like prisons.

  74. Jenna K. December 18, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    Our school sent home a letter (with each of my three kids) explaining what security measures they already have in place, all of which I already knew about. I personally think all of this is overkill. Most schools have something in place for security. During the school day you can only access the school from the main front door, which passes right through the office, where people are required to sign in. I think it’s secure enough. Even if a police officer were placed there, a shooter could still take him out. I just don’t think anything more needs to be done. I guess I’m weird, though, because I didn’t have the urge to check my kids out of school early on Friday after the shooting happened, nor did I have any fear sending them to school Monday. My kids still don’t even know about the shooting because I didn’t let them watch it or listen to it and they didn’t hear about it at school. And I’m not going to bring it up and give them something to worry about when it’s completely not necessary.

  75. JJ December 18, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    And to answer the survey my son’s middle school sent a short email with links to resources about how to talk to your kids about this. My daughter’s elementary school has not communicated about it. Neither school conducted drills or changed policies, etc. maybe something about being Quaker but our schools don’t tend to overreact to things like this.

  76. EmmyB December 18, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    Our school board (Ottawa, Canada) sent out a message expressing condolences, highlighting partnerships with community organizations, and providing some resource material about discussing difficult issues with your kids. There was no discussion of altering school security at all, and I’m glad that’s the case. They do have lock-down drills a few times a year, though.

  77. Steve December 18, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    How many schools are blind to this?

    http://www.uhuh.com/education/drugskill.htm

  78. BK December 18, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    At a meeting at the school where I teach, I requested that we not go overboard with security measures. My voice seemed to get shot down. Other teachers wanted more lockdown drills and classroom doors kept locked at all times. I don’t want that for my own children, who attend the school. Ironically, I started daydreaming about homeschooling to save my children from lockdown drills rather than from the perceived threat of possible violence…

  79. Melissa December 18, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    Our public elementary school, in Chicago, sent home a note with helpful hints for how to talk to your kids about Newtown. That, I appreciated. Then they mentioned that they are keeping all the kids indoors for recess all week this week AND the first week of January “to help stabilize security”. Ridiculous!
    What does this even mean?

  80. mollie December 18, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    Melissa, from my experience, cooping up a bunch of grade-schoolers is definitely NOT a good way to have either stability OR security.

  81. Andrea December 18, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    I sent an email to our Superintendent on Sunday night forwarding your article. I urged him to not rush to implement measures that ultimately won’t make kids safer. You can’t protect against crazy. He sent a nice politically correct email back. Today I received an announcement that they are going to retrofit our beautifully open front doors with new security systems (and spend valuable time and resources evaluating all security, surveillance, etc. So sad to me.

  82. CrazyCatLady December 18, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    Our school, probably poses some interesting issues for the district. There are 400 kids, and most come on campus at various times each week for classes, along lines of what a college campus is like. The school is k to 12. Children under 6th grade if not in class must be with a parent. So there are usually about 15 or more parents, usually with younger siblings. All parents must sign in.

    To make things more interesting, the school is in a church, which also ministers to its congregation. The church does do its best to keep these people separate, but spaces do overlap somewhat.

    Our principal sent home his weekly email on Sunday saying that he instructed teachers to only talk about Sandy Hook if the kids bring it up. It sounds like a high school class had an interesting discussion.

    Meanwhile, a neighbor of mine posted a photo of the local school with flags at half mast. She said that only half the kids attended school yesterday. I wanted to write back, but I didn’t think she would appreciate it. Yesterday we had hurricane force winds at about 5:30 in the morning. Electric was out for most of the county. Schools were delayed, but I sure didn’t know because I couldn’t get on the internet. Many people had roads blocked by trees. I am sure that a fair number of people didn’t send their kids in because of all of this.

  83. CrazyCatLady December 18, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    Hmm, got to wonder about the doors locked at all times stuff. What do the fire marshals of the world think of that?

  84. asmm2 December 18, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

    This article ended with “Preparing for the worst has become routine,” with parents wanting front doors locked & officials requiring everyone to sign in for a holiday concert

    Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2012/12/17/2727557/anchorage-school-chief-reviewing.html#storylink=cpy

  85. Puzzled December 18, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    Parents dealing with this might wish to politely ask what exactly changed on Friday. Are you telling us, right in the open, that you did not plan for this kind of event, and never thought it possible, until Friday? What about Bath, New London, Columbine? Just how incompetent do you wish to present yourselves to be, anyway? I’d like to see some school administrator wriggle his way out of that one.

    JJ – I can assure you that I do not consider guns the only right worth defending, I will defend the other rights you mention as well. I’ve run for office twice now, managed the state effort for a Presidential campaign, and worked on other campaigns. Each has emphasized civil liberties. I see no contradiction between that and opposing gun control.

  86. Seoppy December 18, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    I don’t see the point of locking everything. It doesn’t keep people with guns out. Are we going to have to put in bullet proof glass in every building? Solid metal doors? Rent-a-cops? Ridiculous.

  87. Jeff December 18, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    At the jewish day school my 4yo goes to they had a police car yesterday. None today, although they did a drive by according to my wife.

    The school also has a shelter-in place plan, and arrangements with a local someplace for a shelter-out-of-school.

    I am actually pleased with the response. Caution, but not paranoia.

  88. Amy December 18, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    My school just wrote a letter to assure parents that a safety plan was in place and was practiced regularly. It was sort of reassuring that there was no overreaction.

  89. baby-paramedic December 18, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    If you cannot get in, your children can also not get out.

    Far too many people die in all sorts of circumstances (eg, fire), due to being trapped, often by fences. And children have the added disadvantage of often not being able to climb (for example, in my complex I can probably scale the concrete wall, a child probably could not, just due to our difference in sizes and strength).

  90. Nanci December 18, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    I feel like banging my head against a wall! I got an e-mail today from my 5th grade daughters principal. It said that from now on all visitors to the school will be required to have a background check form on file. This includes everyone who will be attending the Christmas parties this Friday. The note said not to worry, parents, grandparents, etc. would be given to the form to fill out as they arrive. Really??? So what exactly does this do? You fill out a background check form on your way to the classroom for a party! I’m pretty sure the people who take the time to stop and fill out the form aren’t the ones they need to worry about! I’m a sub in the district so I’ve already had a background check and this really doesn’t affect me in any way other than to make me shake my head and fear for kids who’s principal think a slip of paper will protect them!

  91. socalledauthor December 18, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    Just for the record, when it comes to locking the classroom doors, every school I have been in (and worked in) the doors lock from the outside, NOT from the inside.

    I keep my classroom door locked– not for fear of gunmen– but because our little darlings tend to wander and they LOVE coming to the computer lab where I have my class. I lock the door so you cannot turn the handle on the outside– but the inside handle works normally.

  92. CrazyCatLady December 18, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    I guess schools were safer when I was a kid. They had windows. Windows that could open, and we were instructed that if we were unable to leave the classroom because of a fire in the hall, that we should use the window, that was like a fire escape on a bus.

    The school down the road doesn’t have windows in the classrooms. I am not sure if they have two doors or not. But most certainly, no windows. Totally depressing.

  93. AHLondon December 18, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

    My kids schools are still assessing, and tightening visitor badge procedures. But it’s the kid stuff, that worries me. Of interest, an off the beaten path post on kids hiding and teachers assessing actual threats: http://accordingtohoyt.com/2012/12/18/all-in-all-its-just-another-brick-in-the-wall/

  94. Steve December 18, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

    Car Backfire Believed To Have Caused School Lockdown

    http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2012/12/18/security-threat-puts-birdville-elementary-on-lockdown/

  95. Havva December 18, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    @CrazyCatLady and others, the firemarshal/ building codes forbid locks that prevent exiting a space. The locked doors should only make entry more difficult, not exit. That said, locked fence gates wold prevent exit. Infact simply having a fence limits the number of directions people can escape, and ways law enforcement could approach the building. When I read about these lockdown drills, I can’t help but remember that the Virginia Tech shooter started by chaining the main doors to trap his intended victims and delay police entry. That said many students locked the doors to their rooms delaying his access and giving them time to get out of a window. So for buildings where the exits funnel together, locking doors can be an effective response. But would be best combined with threat information, and evacuation plans.

  96. linvo December 19, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    There’s a good point someone made (sorry, too lazy to check who it was!) about it being strange to implement new security measures after this school shooting when there have been multiple before. The figures seem to differ, but I understand there have been the odd 70 since 1996? If they feel obliged to implement stricter security measures after each one, where will it end? With kids required to wear bullet proof vests and sitting in bunkers?

    I do feel extremely lucky to live in a country where the last mass shooting was back in the 90s (96 too, I think) and we have never had a school shooting. I do understand it must be very different if it is that close to home. But I simply cannot see how stricter security measures are going to prevent this kind of stuff. It still is rare for this to happen in the US (even if virtually non-existent in other countries) and these sometimes so obviously token security measures just seem to distract from the other discussions which need to be had to try tackle the cause instead of the symptoms.

    I’m sorry if that last statement was too political, but that is my ‘outsider looking in’ perspective which is very broad and superficial because I accept I do not know your culture well enough to be able to offer any more than that.

  97. Donna December 19, 2012 at 1:20 am #

    My school in Am. Samoa has been out for Christmas break since this occurred and no mention was made of it in any way. Nor do I expect anything. Guns are very strictly controlled in Am. Samoa and they have little place in the culture.

    My school in Georgia sent out an email saying counselors are available if needed, it has a plan in place and it continuously reviews its plan to see if improvements could be made. Nothing extreme.

    However, the email goes on and says that the children’s safety is their number one priority. I’d really prefer that the children’s education be a school’s first priority. My child’s safety isn’t even MY first priority.

  98. catspaw73 December 19, 2012 at 4:47 am #

    Here in New Zealand, neither of the kids schools has mentioned it, mind you eldest school finished on Friday and youngest finished for the year today, it has also been pushed down the news feds by Cyclone Evan. As Hinata said earlier, we have a different gun culture, and they are not easy to get nor readily accessible (our gun related deaths are mainly failure to ascertain target when hunting), so while youngest school is fully fenced thats more to stop kids who are runners from ending up on a busy road :-)

  99. Selby December 19, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    The shooting in Newtown had nothing to do with school security policies being insufficient or lax, and everything to do with a mentally impaired person taking his mother’s guns and going on a spree. Schools would do well to lead the way in saying “it’s not OUR fault. We didn’t start this, don’t make us go into perpetual lockdown. GET RID OF THE GUNS.”

  100. Christine December 19, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    Perhaps schools need to have things put into perspective. No one would argue that military bases are run effiently and securely with careful records of who is where and doing what. In fact, one could argue that they are even more protected than even the schools mentioned above (although the eye scanner thing is pretty secure). Yet with all that security, in November 2009 Nidal Hasan was able to kill 13 people and wound 29 others despite being on a secure base surrounded by guns and people who were trained to use them.

    I don’t know what the answer is. I’m not even sure we’ve identified the underlying problems yet. What I do know is that scaring our children and making them prisoners at school and at home is NOT it. We need to stop reacting from our brains’ fear sector and start thinking about things logically. All those protections sound great, but in reality they didn’t stop Lanza and they won’t stop the next gunman. We’re making ourselves feel better at the expense of our children’s well-being. We’re sacrificing their sense of security and childhood freedoms in order to placate our irrational fears.

  101. pentamom December 19, 2012 at 8:36 am #

    Filioque — I think the Columbine-style shootings, where students more or less quietly bring guns into school, and are the more common type, don’t happen in the inner-city schools because many of them have metal detectors now.

    I can’t think of how many cases there have been like this one where someone from the outside invaded with a gun, but the only other one that comes to mind now is the Amish school situation. They’re probably so rare that it doesn’t even make sense to draw any kind of conclusions about why they happen in one kind of place rather than another — for analytical purposes, they “don’t” happen. The sample is too small to describe any kind of trend.

  102. Kym December 19, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    We are homeschooling, so nothing has changed at our school.

    but I wondered if you had seen/heard the story that sales of bullet-proof backpacks have tripled since Newtown. I found a couple of news stories since hearing this mentioned on the radio. I can’t imagine explaining to my child how and in what circumstances to use this…
    http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/12/body-armor-backpack-sandy-hook-sales-soar

  103. Uly December 19, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Hey, Lenore, I just got an email ostensibly from you that directed me to a job site. It doesn’t seem your usual style, so I thought I’d give you the heads up because if it’s spam you may have a real problem.

  104. Momof2 December 19, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    What our school did is MADE SURE all the kids knew about the tragedy that took place last Friday. There was no getting away from it. The District Administrator called and left a long-winded message on our answering machine as the kids listened to it, discussions were had in school on Monday, as well as information was sent home in their folders with hints about “how to talk to them.” On top of another call from the DA on Sunday, which I answered. Total overkill, in my opinion.

    We shielded them all weekend hoping to avoid them ever knowing, and hell or high water, EVERYONE is going to know about it.

    When I asked them Monday night what they knew, their response was, “Some guy shot some kids in a school.” I made sure to let them know he was “mentally ill” – true or not, but justification for his actions.

    My son informed me on Friday they had a “Black Code” drill on Wednesday. They practice them frequently. We have security cameras. The doors are locked. The kids know what to do. We’ve had actual lockdowns in the bunch of years they’ve attended that school just from things going on in the neighborhood. They’re used to it.

    I’m so thankful I’m a free-range parent. On Monday, there were too many comments regarding how difficult it was to send their kids to school. Wow! Obviously, I hug my kids a little tighter, but I know they’re as safe as safe can be!!

    It’s all in God’s hands.

  105. kadiera December 19, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Our schools are “temporarily” locking all doors and requiring visitors to be met at the front door (either by a parent volunteer or via phone call to the office for someone to come get them) by a person who will escort them to the office to sign in and show ID

    This temporary measure exists while they review policies. Which, since all other doors are locked, and since they do lock-down drills already, and alredy request people to sign in when they arrive, seems just more security theater rather than useful.

    After all, didn’t the gunman in CT break into the school anyway? And if there’d been a person standing at the door to greet him, do you think it would have stopped him? I’m guessing that person would have been dead before they could call for help.

  106. Helene December 19, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Here in Columbus, OH they are discussing armed security guards at the doors. Quote from 610 WTVN news: “Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine doesn’t think it would be a bad idea for some schools to have an armed person on site during the school day.”

    Read more: http://www.610wtvn.com/cc-common/mainheadlines3.html?feed=268656&article=10649774#ixzz2FVvxiBLp

  107. mollie December 19, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Helene, my hometown! I’d expect nothing less. Groan.

  108. Taradlion December 19, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    Our school (Jewish day school in NYC) already had a security guard at the door (in addition to a receptionist that sits at a large desk by the door. Parents/visitors/teachers sign in and out.

    Two weeks ago, I received an email that school had its first lockdown drill. I was annoyed. I didn’t think it would tramatize my kids anymore than hiding under my desk in preparation of nuclear war traumatized me as a child in the 1970’s, but I thought it about equally effective. Didn’t make me feel my kids were any safer. I do not feel any differently (about the lockdown drill) in light of the horrible tragedy that occurred in Newtown, CT. First of all, from reports, it seems that children saved from the shooter, we’re hidden in bathrooms and closets by teachers acting on instinct, not following a practiced drill. I again told my children, drills are a way to practice listening. Emergencies are rare and in an emergency you MUST listen to grown ups and that people will come to help.

    Yesterday, school ran another drill. I received an email of concern that my 8 year old brought up the events in CT. I had told him about it because in NYC I knew he would hear snipits from the guy yelling “school shooting” headline to give away free papers to people entering the subway, on taxi radios, and from other kids. He is a very perceptive kid, it was inlikely that he wpuld mot “find out” and not because he watched the news. He in fact came home with details I had not discussed with him from a classmate. I told him last night that, although I told him, different families deal with things differently. That of course he could talk to me or other adults at school, but it was not a good idea to talk to other kids about it. I KNEW he would connect it to the “drill”… That for him the drill would become preparation for the inevitable. He told me “We’re safe because we have a military trained Israeli security guard” (who must be bullet proof). I told him he was safe because this was very, very, very rare…in fact SO rate that it was big news and has been big news for DAYS…

  109. Taradlion December 19, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    Sorry for typos above.

    Wanted to add that the security guard, though a nice guy, does not factor into my sense of security….

  110. MDS December 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    All kinds of overreaction. I wish people would just sit and feel sad for a while. Feelings are for, well, feeling. Instead of just feeling them, though, we’re acting out on them…we shouldn’t be surprised when those actions are counterproductive…

    :(

  111. Karen December 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    At our son’s pre-school holiday concert last night, the principal felt the need to bring up the fact that the school’s emergency plan is online and teachers conduct regular drills. She went on to say cameras are being added in key areas and locks added to every classroom door. I imagine she was bombarded with questions from parents this entire week and into yesterday evening.

    The principal was very careful with her language and spoke in general terms about “crisis drills” and “emergency preparedness” since many children were in the room including my 7 year old. Some parents were not so careful and brought up crazy people shooting children in school. One mom asked if all visitors could be frisked. Another said families of teachers should also be required to undergo a background check. We’re in Maryland so someone even mentioned the sniper from several years ago. I’m still very angry that I had to explain that in detail and comfort my son again when we returned home from a night that should have been fun and full of holiday cheer. They concert was delayed more than half an hour for this ridiculous question and answer.

    Cameras, locks and buzzers will not stop someone bent on doing harm. We all feel helpless to think of that but I take comfort in the rarity of such a crime thanks to this site.

  112. marie December 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Donna said:
    …the children’s safety is their number one priority. I’d really prefer that the children’s education be a school’s first priority. My child’s safety isn’t even MY first priority.

    This made me laugh because I have said the exact same thing. “Our children’s safety” is such a handy trump card.

  113. Dean December 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Sounds like many, if not most, schools are responding quite well – i.e., not overreacting. So no need to barrage superintendents or principals (who have plenty to do) who are part of the group reacting well. A quick email saying “I’m so glad your response was measured and thoughtful and not reactionary!” would be much appreciated, I’m sure.

  114. Rick December 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    The school where I work hasn’t said anything (yet)… but, yesterday, I did notice the principal guiding a group of 3 or 4 policemen (along with a suit, which I assume was a district official) around our campus for about an hour. They seemed to be looking at open-access areas (places where there is no fence or gate), pointing, gesturing, and talking in serious hushed tones.

    I didn’t get to chat with the principal afterward… and, appearances to the contrary, I’m hoping this is not the beginning of plans to lock us all in behind a fence.

    Rick

  115. hineata December 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    @Andy Harris – am I the only one who finds that just a little bit sick? What next – bullet proof total body armour for pre-schoolers?

    A product that might – just might, at a stretch – provide protection in places like Syria or Afghanistan, always provided the kid could whip it around in time to stop the bullets coming from what ever direction they were coming from. But what’s the bet they aren’t being sent to those sort of areas?

    @ Donna – love it!

  116. WendyW December 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    This article gives some interesting statistics re: gun ownership vs. crime/murder rates.
    http://www.thenewamerican.com/reviews/opinion/item/13967-10-liberal-lies-people-believe-about-guns

  117. Sarah December 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    WendyW, thanks for posting the article. It’s very informitive.

  118. Bernard Poulin December 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    Schools may physically be in our neighborhoods but they remain psychologically isolated, walled-in and inaccessible – though not impenetrable.

    If schools were less stand-offish from the rest of society – i.e.: more open to the world – with no fencing or locked doors – with classrooms physically closer to marketplaces, town halls, places of worship and other community centers – unbalanced individuals would have a harder time “sneaking in”. Why? Because, for all intents and purposes, sneaking in is much more difficult to achieve in the midst of communal activities. Also, in a more open environment, there would be less of a need for “lock-down” scenarios and more opportunities for children and teens to learn from a wider array of people. As it stands, children are presently excluded from active life due to, ironically, a school system based on separateness – and an overall increasing level of anxiety.

    Our present over-protective attitudes aren’t working. Rather than guide or lead, they openly reflect feelings of impotence. Rather than consider, ponder, think about or act upon things, we now react emotionally to all traumatic events as if they are universal and constant. And this does nothing less than erode our ability to deal with difficulties in general.

    Due to recent events in Newtown, many communities are considering tightening the reins – closing off schools even more from the rest of the world. I fear that such decisions will prove not only erroneous but dangerous. These reactions, instead, will only prepare our children for a life of normalized fear and submission to an authority base which is even more frightened than they are. Times, if they are ever to get better, demand that we react less, think more and get closer to each other.

  119. Beth December 19, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    Our charter school in NC (K-6) initially did nothing but after complaints from parents about the lack of action and “lax security” at school the principal has sent out an email and there will be a lock down drill tomorrow. All classroom doors are now locked during the day. Very sad as this is a small school with a wonderful, relaxed atmosphere.

  120. Kristy December 19, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    Quasi-related:

    On Monday, my folks wanted to pick my daughter up from day care, to bring her to a Christmas event at a local theme park.

    When I let the ladies at day care know this, they asked first if their na,es were on the list of me-approved people; if not, could I just jot them down? And theytold me to ask them to bring id, “until we get to know their faces.” I laughed, and pointed to the picture of my parents that’s taped up inside her crib, and they chuckled and said “oh ok, we’ll recognize them then.”

    How lovely! What a graceful balance of being responsibly protective of the infants in their care, without tipping over into paranoia! I love the balance of protocol and common sense, as well as the idea that the three adults with whom I am entrusting my only child can also be trusted to recognize a face from a photo they see every day :-) It was obvious that they would never release her to anyone I hadn’t approved; it was also obvious that, once I had approved someone, they weren’t going to pull out the red tape either. I liked that.

  121. Cin December 20, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    Oh, it’s all completely ridiculous. All of it.

    Sandy Hook was LOCKED.

    They should just drop all of this wasteful nonsense that keeps no one safe in any way, shape or form.

  122. Havva December 20, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    I have to take everything I said before back. We just got a Sandy Hook email from my daughter’s daycare the key part telling us …

    “One of the biggest [safety] concerns at this center (as stated by a parent) “is how often parents ‘piggy back’ on the parent in front of them when coming in, thus bypassing the need to enter the security code”.

    Please understand that in an effort to safeguard our children, no adult (parent or staff member) will hold the door for others. Each person must either use their access code or ring the bell to be admitted by a member of our staff. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause but the children’s safety is our greatest priority.”

    Part of me wants to keep my daughter home now.

    I have spent hours trying to concisely and clearly explain my dismay. The redacted result I am about to send is as follows:
    ———————————————————————-
    [Director, assistant director] and all the staff,

    I am deeply saddened to see this letter. While safety is important, this reaction [to a highly unlikely and chaotic threat] does more harm than good. It works against the educational goals outlined in the attachment. Our greatest safety, comfort, resilience and foundation for growth, comes from community. Community built and strengthened by our knowledge of one another and our consistent willingness to care for and help one another. Community and connection to caring adults is one of the main things I have loved about sending [my daughter] to [daycare name].

    Minor as the act of holding a door open for a parent right behind you (especially one with a baby in an infant carrier) may seem. It is a moment to care or be cared for. It eases the hassles of parenthood and makes us feel welcome and connected. Sometimes it starts us talking. At the least it gets us to take a good look at one another, allowing us to recognize which parents belong with which children. It sets us up to be an extra set of eyes to protect those children.

    To ask me to drop a door in the face of a parent I recognize breaks down that community. And to what end? The shooter at Sandy Hook faced a similar security system, he was not let in, he shot his way in. Moreover even when protecting military secrets I am not asked to drop the door on someone I know belongs in there. I don’t believe [my daughter] knows about Sandy Hook. But she will notice when doors start dropping in our face. I don’t want her to build a distrust for familiar people, the very people she would do well to seek in an emergency.

    Of course the door isn’t the only place people connect. I get a sense of community when a teacher stops me on my way to the classroom to tell me what [my daughter] did on the playground. It lets me know that even the teachers working upstairs know I am her mother, take notice of, and care about [my daughter]. But now these instructions say these same teachers should close the door on me, on my daughter, and on other parents. Why?

    I am all too aware that life is fragile and has no guarantee. So more than I want maximum security I want [my daughter] to have community, connection, love, and joy all her life.

  123. Fear less December 20, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    Our district is locking all the classroom doors now. So if they go the bathroom, they have to knock to get back in, which seems to me a pain for the teachers, to have let each kid back in. I think it will lead to not letting them use the bathroom, something I have seen already and I find infuriating.

  124. Lollipoplover December 20, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    Just saw this:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/50255928

    The day I send in my kid with a bulletproof backpack is the day I don’t send my kids to school anymore. This insanity needs to stop.

  125. Hop December 20, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    We had a lock down drill today. We had a lot of warnings about how it was not a real incident. Also, I can’t go outside after lunch because of the shooting. It was against the rules before but now they are enforcing it. All news sites are now blocked (including weather.com) in case someone sensitive sees it. I think that is pretty much all. Nothing major but a few annoying things. My sister’s school was kept late that day.

  126. Puzzled December 21, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    Do these schools have math teachers? Why aren’t the math teachers stepping forward to point out how rare these events are?

    And when will the school leadership step down, if they are saying they have done a lousy job of protecting the school until now?

  127. zozimus December 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    The Premier of Ontario, after being locked in a showdown with teachers where he is demanding that they take pay cuts and lose their right to bargain and / or strike, on the pretext that there’s no more money, just announced that he will make available tens of millions of dollars to equip every school in Ontario with lock systems.

    Sigh. So wrong on so many levels.

  128. Tara December 25, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    My school is now going to buzz people in and out of school and will be lock at 8:10 everyday.

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