Dr. Bill Heidenreich, superintendent of the Central High School District, said an evacuation drill was practiced at the four secondary schools in late November, and Memorial Junior High School additionally rehearsed a lockdown drill just last Monday. Heidenreich noted that the district has two lockdown procedures — one if the threat is inside the building and another if it’s outside.
In reading up on the Newtown shooting, Heidenreich said that school did everything by the book, but there’s only so much that can be done. Valley Stream’s junior and senior high schools each have a single entry point at the main entrance while all other doors are locked.
While the shooting happened early Friday morning, most students in Valley Stream’s elementary schools didn’t find out about it until they went home. When they returned on Monday, some students had questions. Robb-Fund said there was some brief discussion about the tragedy in the upper grades, and school social workers and psychologists were available.
Alf Rasmussen, a school psychologist in District 24, said after the shooting he put together some information for teachers and parents so they could talk to children appropriately about such a horrific act of violence.
“I think parents are realizing nowadays that they have to speak to their children about things,” Rasmussen said. He added that parents should be open and truthful with their children, yet avoid exposing them to too much information about a tragedy like in Newtown. “That’s too much even for adults to deal with, let alone a child.”
In District 30, Stirling sent out a letter to with tips for parents on how to talk to their children. In the schools, he said the staff is trained to handle these types of issues and support for children was available on Monday.
He said having a staff well-trained to handle an emergency is one of the best security measures a school can have.
Board of Education trustee Ken Cummings, during a discussion about school safety at Monday night’s meeting, said that District 30 has always taken the security of its students, staff and visitors very seriously. “It’s something that we pride ourselves on,” he said, “and it’s something where we look to do better.”
Fale said he hopes to never see a repeat of a incident like at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “In my mind it’s the worst tragedy I’ve ever heard of in my lifetime,” he said. “As a school official, it makes you reflect and find those gaps within our own security plans that need to be changed, and be changed quickly.”
Brian Croce contributed to this story.