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Connecticut shooting prompts school security reviews

By NATHAN WHALEN Whidbey News-Times Staff reporter
December 23, 2012 · Updated 3:15 PM
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In the wake of the Dec. 14 shooting in Connecticut where 20 students and six adults were killed, Oak Harbor school officials are busy reviewing security policies and informing parents about safety around the district.

During a special Oak Harbor School Board meeting Tuesday, State Rep. Norma Smith asked staff and school board members about how the district reacted to the tragedy.

“It has made an emotional impact on our staff and our parents and kids too,” Schulte said during the meeting.

Smith was meeting with school district officials Tuesday to discuss legislative priorities.

Once news of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy broke, Schulte said staff was encouraged to keep televisions off, especially in the younger grades because they didn’t want thousands of students impacted without their parents involved.

The staff of each school held meetings to review lockdown procedures and a letter was sent to parents Monday outlining the safety precautions that take place in Oak Harbor schools.

“Like all schools throughout Washington state, we conduct safety drills monthly, to prepare our children and staff to react appropriately to any threat,” Schulte said in a letter sent to parents this week. “We do lockdowns for outside threats; lockdowns for inside threats; safety drills for earthquakes and for fires.”

He added in the letter that schools have gone into emergency lockdown several times at the request of the police.

Those incidents were never a direct threat to schools, but something going on in nearby neighborhoods.

The biggest security feature Schulte highlighted during the meeting is the community, who should report any concerns in advance.

School staff will continue reviewing security procedures.

School officials are going to meet with law enforcement leaders next month and school security will be discussed.

Schulte highlighted the recent Oak Harbor High School remodel that improved security by reducing the number of entrances into schools.

Prior to the remodel, the school had between 75 and 80 entrances.

After construction, the school has one main entry while others around campus were either locked from the outside or secured with gates and fences.

The school district also has a school resource officer, an Oak Harbor police officer funded by the city, stationed at the high school.

 

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