Tidioute Community Charter School has been practicing intruder drills this week with the aid of Sgt. David Gluth of Warren-based Pennsylvania State Police in response to the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
"We're revamping and going over safety protocol whether it be inside or outside whatever the crisis may be," said Heather Cass, school secretary.
According to a statement issued by Dr. Doug Allen, the school's CEO, "We've had emergency plans in place. (TCCS) is planning with Sgt. Gluth our training plans for the future covering everything from a gas leak to a terroristic threat to the dam breaking. During our three drills this week, our students and staff cooperated very well and we believe we are ensuring the safety of our 300 students. We have eight radios we use to communicate throughout the building as well. TCCS is a safe school."
The school is a K-12 building in which all doors are on constant lockdown. According to Cass, security cameras are in place at all entrances and there are plans to purchase two new cameras in an effort to upgrade security and add the ability to zoom in on faces. Plans to add even more handheld radios have been discussed in an effort to further improve communication in the building, she said.
"We are confident that the building is secure," said Cass. "We just need to add more walkie talkies, more cameras, and additional deadbolts where needed. These are all minimal costs that will upgrade our security."
In terms of the morale within the classrooms, TCCS school nurse Nicole Chapman said, "Any students that had concerns or questions were able to be reassured by the teachers. Several questions were answered and no major concerns were reported by the teachers."
According to administrators, the drills that took place for an intruder were a success, taking less than one minute from start to finish. The drills included how to react, where the children would go, what the safest places were, and lockdown procedures.
"There was no panic during the drills," added Chapman. "There was almost an eerie silence in the building."
A letter has been sent to the parents of TCCS students that addresses changes to building policies. Of those changes, the most noticeable is the request that parents no longer enter the elementary wing.
"We are asking parents to say their goodbyes in the morning in the lobby rather than walk down into the elementary wing," the letter states. "This helps keep visitors in the lobby and not in the classroom area of the building."
Anyone with questions should call the school at 484-3550.