The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

Headline News

December 17, 2012

Schools increase security after massacre

MIAMI — 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 today for the first time since the massacre at 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. “But it’s scary.”

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

“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 No. 1 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 stressing that they have safety plans in place that are regularly reviewed and rehearsed.

Some officials refused to discuss plans 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.

In northern Virginia around the 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.  

Many schools will be holding a moment of silence today and will fly flags at half staff. In addition to their students’ physical safety, administrators are also concerned about the psychological toll the shootings could take.

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

“We are concerned for everybody — our staff and student body and parents,” Carlson said. “It’s going to be a day where we are all going to be hypervigilant, I know that.”

In Tucson, Ariz., where a gunman in January 2011 killed six and wounded 12 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the largest school district in the state increased security after Friday’s shooting. Tucson Unified School District spokeswoman Cara Rene said Sunday that the district was participating in a memorial being held at one of its schools on Sunday evening, and that Gifford’s replacement, Rep. Ron Barber, would be a featured speaker along with Superintendent John Pedicone. Barber was with Giffords at the constituent meet-and-greet and was among the wounded.

Rene said planning was under way to help teachers and students with grief and fear issues when school resumes today, and the district was working with Tucson police on security issues.

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.

Meanwhile, at home, many parents were trying their best to allay their children’s fears while coping with their own. Kornfeld said she drove her children to their elementary school over the weekend to show them that it was still safe and nothing had changed.

She said her family’s Miami suburban community is a lot like Newtown, Conn., a place where people generally feel safe being at home without the doors locked and playing outside after school.

“Why would that happen there?” she said. “It kind of rocks everything.”

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Obama voices skepticism on Russia in Ukraine

    President Barack Obama conveyed skepticism Thursday about Russian promises to de-escalate a volatile situation in Ukraine, and said the United State and its allies are ready to impose fresh sanctions if Moscow doesn’t make good on its commitments.

    April 18, 2014

  • President defending health-care law good for some Democrats

    President Barack Obama’s full-throated defense of his health-care overhaul seems perfectly timed for Democrats who want their party to embrace the law more enthusiastically.
    At a White House news conference Thursday, Obama noted that health insurance enrollments under the new law are higher than expected, and costs are lower.

    April 18, 2014

  • Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions — for now

    In a surprise accord, Ukraine and Russia agreed Thursday on tentative steps to halt violence and calm tensions along their shared border after more than a month of Cold War-style military posturing triggered by Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.

    April 18, 2014

  • Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race

    The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week.
    The actions of the man, whose mother said he had a mental disorder, rattled nerves as Boston prepared for the annual race, but authorities said they did not consider it a security breach.

    April 17, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing anniversary

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014

  • Questions linger year after Boston Marathon bombs

    A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards from where an 8-year-old boy was killed when it exploded.

    April 15, 2014

  • Little sign of progress as Obama, Putin speak

    Speaking for the first time in more than two weeks, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin showed little sign of agreement Monday, with the U.S. leader urging pro-Russian forces to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine and Putin denying that Moscow was interfering in the region.

    April 15, 2014

  • 3 dead after suburban Kansas City shooting

    A man opened fire outside a Jewish community center on Sunday, killing two people before driving over to a retirement community a few blocks away and killing someone else, authorities said.

    April 14, 2014

  • Couple: Truck was on fire before deadly bus crash

    A couple said a FedEx tractor-trailer was already on fire when it careened across a median, sideswiped their car and slammed into a bus carrying high school students, adding a new twist to the investigation of a crash that killed 10 people.
    Initial reports by police indicated the truck swerved to avoid a sedan that was traveling in the same direction in this town about 100 miles north of Sacramento, then went across the median. There was no mention of the truck being on fire.

    April 13, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads