Schools Assess Safety Procedures after Newtown, CT Shootings

In the wake of the deadly shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, school administrators across the country are reviewing security procedures.

In the 13 years since the Columbine shootings, one safety procedure, known as a “lockdown,” which was reportedly carried out at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday, has become fairly commonplace in public schools according to Tom Scott.

“Teachers will bring students into the class, close doors, shut off lights, bring students over to a corner of the classroom away from any visibility, any windows, any visibility from the doorway, so that if in the event that someone should come in, there’s an appearance that that classroom is vacant.”

Scott is executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. He says while lockdowns are widespread, each school district creates its own emergency plan. He says Bay State districts are required by law to have such a plan, but specific procedures are not mandated.

Dr. Gordon Noseworthy, interim superintendent of Pittsfield Public Schools says his district uses lockdown and evacuation procedures and has security cameras. But he says the district is open to new safety ideas.

“You know, someone might come up with something that’s absolutely brilliant tomorrow, and if we get wind of it, our committee will assemble, and we’ll see if we can’t follow suit. But at the moment, we’re doing everything in our power that we know of to make these schools as safe as we possibly can for the children.”

But Scott says some districts don’t require school entrances to be locked during the day to keep buildings open to parents and the community.

“And those districts are obviously looking at what’s happened in Newtown, and reviewing those procedures, and certainly will take great consideration in terms of where they go forward.”

Scott says he expects federal and state school safety standards to be widely discussed In the aftermath of the Newtown shootings.