Schools around the country are taking extra precautions in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, Yahoo News reports. As many parents are faced having to explain to their children what happened at the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school last week, staff and administrators in districts all across the U.S. are adding police patrols, reviewing security plans and making other arrangements to make sure that their school will not fall victim to the same tragedy.
Many districts have already made counselors available to both students and teachers who are heading back to school today for the first time since the shooting hit the news and blanketed media over the weekend. Yet, while staff are working to make the first day back easier for the students, their parents are grappling with their own anxiety and fear.
Teachers themselves were uncertain about what questions they’ll be facing when classes start again, but many are anticipating that the topic will almost certainly come up. One teacher said that he wouldn’t be surprised if the questions asked didn’t stop at the personal but went straight into the political.
“It’s going to be a tough day,” said Richard Cantlupe, an American history teacher at Westglades Middle School in Parkland, Fla. “This was like our 9/11 for school teachers.”
Cantlupe said he will tell his students that his number one job is to keep them safe, and that like the teachers in Connecticut, he would do anything to make sure they stay out of harm’s way. He is also beginning to teach about the Constitution and expects to take questions on the Second Amendment.
“It’s going to lead right into the controversy over gun control,” he said.
Schools are making an effort to stay in contact with parents, with many notifying them of safety plans they say are constantly being reviewed and updated. Local police departments are also getting involved by scheduling additional police patrols in neighborhoods where schools are located.
Security is being increased in several of the largest districts in the country, including Fairfax, Virginia, Tucson, Arizona and Anoka-Hennepin in Minnesota. All three will have mental health professionals on standby to deal with any concerns raised by the students or staff.
Officials with Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district, said the district is reiterating its existing safety and emergency-management plans to keep more than 400,000 students safe, and may deploy police or counselors to schools as needed.
“With this incident, we took it as an opportunity to remind all of our principals to review and refresh their individual emergency-management plans and remind staff of standard safety protocol,” said Chief Safety and Security Officer Jadine Chou.