In response to the tragedy at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., officials in the Warren County School District are taking extra time on security and preparing to handle stresses among the student body.
A letter that went home Tuesday with students district-wide outlines the efforts taken by school personnel.
"Events such as the one in Sandy Hook are bringing school security to the forefront of discussion in many communities, and Warren County is no different," Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel wrote. "Nothing is more important than keeping your children safe while they are in our care. You have my assurance that the Warren County School District will do what it can to make this a reality, each and every day."
He listed five particular points of focus of the district:
"Staff will be available to students if they should need support as a result of this tragedy. Please contact your school administrator if you feel that your student is in need of support as a result of Friday's events;"
"Administrators have been instructed to perform a tour of the school each day, prior to its opening, to ensure that all building entrances are locked;"
"Existing policies and procedures regarding admittance to school buildings and property will continue to be enforced;"
"Safety procedures will be reviewed to ensure that the district is doing what it can to keep children and staff safe;"
"The district will work with local law enforcement agencies to review, adjust, and implement school safety plans."
At Monday night's school board committee meetings, Hufnagel addressed some of the concerns brought up during an administrative meeting. Some buildings do not have security camera systems and most don't have an entry system in which visitors must pass through the office to access the building. At some buildings, visitors don't have to pass the office after they are buzzed in.
Hufnagel said parents should feel welcome to contribute their input regarding safety concerns.
"There are conversations we should have in the near future," Hufnagel said.
Those discussions could include student identification, restrictions on allowing parents and community members into the schools, and simply "how far do we want to go. Schools aren't prisons," he said.
He advised due diligence and avoiding "knee-jerk reactions."
Finance Committee member Mary Anne Paris suggested that the district offer its condolences to Sandy Hook Elementary School. Hufnagel said he would send a sympathy card from the district.
"The tragedy that took place at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, Dec. 14, is still difficult to accept," he wrote in the letter to parents. "We continue to offer our thoughts and prayers as those affected cope with the tragic loss of innocent lives."