Schools around US increase security after massacre

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm •  Published: December 16, 2012
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MIAMI (AP) — Jessica Kornfeld sat down with her son and daughter after school on Friday and shared with them the unthinkable, horrific news out of Connecticut: Someone had stormed into an elementary school and killed children nearly their same age.

"They're just babies," her 10-year-old son said. "What could they have done?"

Kornfeld assured him the victims had done nothing wrong, and that the shootings didn't make sense to anybody. She reminded her children that they were with her, and safe.

"But it could have been us," her son replied.

School administrators across the nation have pledged to add police patrols, review security plans and make guidance counselors available in their districts as students return to classes Monday for the first time since the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

And yet, it is pretty near impossible for parents not to be anxious and apprehensive.

"For them, you need to pretend that you're OK," said Kornfeld, of Pinecrest, Fla., a village in Miami-Dade County. "But it's scary."

Teachers shared their concerns and braced themselves for what they would face in the classroom Monday.

"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.

In an effort to ensure their students' safety and calm parents' nerves, school districts across the United States have asked police departments to increase patrols and have sent messages to parents outlining safety plans that they assured them are regularly reviewed and rehearsed.

Some officials refused to discuss plans publicly in detail, but it was clear that vigilance will be high this week at schools everywhere in the aftermath of one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history: Twenty-six people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including 20 children ages 6 and 7. The gunman then shot and killed himself.

Northern Virginia's Fairfax County Public Schools, the largest school system in the Washington area with about 181,000 students, will provide additional police patrols and counselors.

"This is not in response to any specific threat but rather a police initiative to enhance safety and security around the schools and to help alleviate the understandably high levels of anxiety," Superintendent Jack Dale said Sunday.

Dennis Carlson, superintendent of Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota, said a mental health consultant will meet with school officials Monday, and there will be three associates — one to work with the elementary, middle and high schools, respectively. As the day goes on, officials will be on the lookout for any issues that arise, and extra help will go where needed.

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