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School safety becomes main concern after Newtown shooting

BY: Kaitlin Fritz, Community Papers of WNY | December 20, 2012

Due to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, many local school districts have decided to reexamine all school emergency plans, including the Clarence Central School District.

Superintendent of the Clarence Central School District Geoffrey Hicks said that whenever there is a national event such as this, it is a time for the board to go back, check and reassure parents that the emergency plans that are in tact are the best for their children and the staff.

Hicks said that there is a certain protocol and several procedures to follow everyday in order to help keep everyone inside the school safe. One example of this is that all doors to the schools are locked throughout the school day. In order for a visitor to enter, they must be buzzed in. To be buzzed in, they must state their name and what their purpose is for visiting. This procedure, along with others, will be reemphasized at all schools.

Also, Hicks added that he will look at the Newtown tragedy and ask, “given what we’ve learned about this most recent tragedy, is there anything we need to change?’’

Earlier this week, the New York State Police offered to patrol the schools in the Clarence Central School District until Friday. With the offer accepted, state troopers patrolled all schools to be sure of everyone’s safety.

“It gives people an understanding that we take all of our safety precautions seriously,” said Hicks.

Several districts throughout Western New York have also taken these measures and are reevaluating their emergency plans as well.

Along with the physical safety of the students and staff, Hicks and the Crisis Intervention Team also met to ensure the emotional safety of the district.

The Crisis Intervention Team meets whenever there is an outside or internal event that could cause the need to take care of the emotional needs of the students and teachers.

Hicks said that there may be students and teachers that had seen images that may have upset them or the students may have had a conversation with their parents and just want to talk more about it. In this case, there were social workers, school psychologists and counselors available throughout the week for anyone in emotional distress over the tragedy.

“It’s necessary for us to have these services available and if the kids need them, we connect them to counselors,” said Hicks.

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