Dropping their kids off for school this week has not been as easy for many area parents following Friday's tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn.
"Dropping off my daughter this morning was an exercise in self-control. I kept thinking of all those parents that won't ever do that with their little kiddos again, it was all I could do to appear upbeat and "normal," said Melina Everett, responding to a question about school safety on the Algonquin-LITH Patch Facebook page.
Several other parents sounded off Monday regarding their thoughts surrounding the Newtown, Conn. shootings and shared their concerns over school safety.
"Are there shatter proof windows on all the schools? If not in light of what happened that needs to change," Adrienne Dumser said on the Algonquin-LITH Patch Facebook page. "Possibly we've moved into the age of needing armed guards at all levels of schools now as well."
Others said they had faith in the teachers and schools' safety plans currently in place.
"I am a parent of two kids at LITH elementary school and had no fear in sending my kids to school today," Jennie Hayes wrote Monday on the Algonquin-LITH Patch Facebook page. "Why? Because the front doors are locked and you must be buzzed into the building in order to enter ...The staff communicates effectively with the parents as well as the principle as to what is going on during the school day."
Following the Newtown, Conn. shooting, area school officials have been reviewing safety plans and sharing those plans with parents. District 300 posted details surrounding its safety plan here.
"D300 takes the safety of our students, staff, and visitors extremely seriously," said District 300 Superintendent Michael Bregy in an e-mail to parents Friday.
'While there is no plan that can totally prevent a random act of senseless violence like this, our district has a school safety plan in place that has been developed in close partnership with law enforcement authorities and regularly practiced by our faculty and staff," Bregy wrote in the e-mail.
District 300 had psychologists and social workers on hand at schools this week for any "students who need assistance in processing" the shootings that occured at Sandy Hook, Bregy said.
Here are more details on District 300's safety plan include:
- District 300 employs full-time District Safety Officer Gary Chester, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who is a former police chief and fire chief with many years of experience in school safety. In Illinois, very few districts have a full-time security expert on staff.
- Through Chester's efforts, the district works closely with the numerous police, fire, and sheriff's departments throughout the district's 15 municipalities. These first responders have all been provided copies of school floor-plans and have been trained on D300's internal processes, so that they know exactly where to go and what to expect within our schools in the case of an active shooter or other dangerous situation.
- Each year, everyone who works with our students receives training on how to handle the potential for a violent situation. This includes regular and substitute teachers, office and support staff, bus drivers, administrators, and others.
- Each year, D300 students and staff review and practice lockdown procedures.
- D300 schools are all equipped with video surveillance and schools all require visitors to be buzzed-in for entry.
- Police liaison officers from the local police departments work in all of the D300 high schools.
- A safety hotline is available that allows students and adults to provide anonymous tips, 24 hours a day, about weapons, violence, bullying, and drugs. The hotline number is 847-551-8477. Tips can also be sent via e-mail to SafeSchoolTipLine@d300.org
District 158 Superintendent John Burkey also wrote a letter to parents Friday, which is posted on the District 158 website, and shared details of District 158's safety plan. He said the school is reviewing their procedures in light Friday's shooting to see if there is anything thate can do better.
"I have two children of my own in our district and would never put them in a setting that I did not feel was safe," Burkey said in the letter. "While Sandy Hook is at the forefront of our minds right now, we must remember that senseless acts of violence occur in many sectors of our society. Teachers and students are safer in school than they are in most other places."
Here are some of the procedures District 158 follows to ensure safety in schools:
- Visitors must check in through our offices before being let through the secure doors to the building
- District 158 practices lock-down procedures with students and staff. These are vitally important, and when done properly, a lock-down can limit an intruder’s access to students and staff, Burkey said.
- District 158 also works very closely with the police departments in our school district, and we regularly discuss and practice procedures for an intruder incident.
What do you think about your school's safety? Sound off on Patch by commenting below. You can also join the conversation on the Algonquin-LITH Patch Facebook page.