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Police Urge Parents to Know School Safety Protocols After Newtown, CT Shooting

Wheaton school officials will review current safety protocols to ensure all schools are as secure as possible after the Friday shooting at a Newtown, CT elementary school. Police encourage parents to know school safety procedures.

After the , Wheaton school officials plan to assess safety procedures at their schools to ensure they are following best practices.

District 200 spokesman Erica Loiacono said Tuesday the district received a few calls from concerned parents this week, regarding safety procedures at their child’s schools. She said the district's safety committee, comprised of district staff, police and fire officials will meet for its next regular meeting after winter break to look at current safety procedures in the schools. 

“We have representation from almost all of the schools there, so we’re going to debrief and see if there are any additional concerns we need to address in response to this,” Loiacono said.

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While parents do not receive copies of their child’s school’s safety procedures, they can contact the office for information, Loiacono said.

Loiacono said District 200 Superintendent Dr. Brian Harris asked principals on Monday to make sure teachers were “very vigilant” in following normal safety procedures. 

“(It’s) just a reminder (that) we need to take this very seriously,” she said.

Kathleen Murphy, spokesman for St. Michael Parish School, a private school for children from preschool through eighth grade, said the school’s staff met early Monday at the request of Fr. Belmonte, Superintendent of Joliet Catholic Schools, to review safety protocols in the school.

“Religious Education is also aware of the need to improve security after school and on weekends.” She said.

Wheaton Police Chief Mark Field said Wednesday that officers this week have continued to have a high police presence near schools, as always.

He said officers are evaluated annually about how much time they spend in and around the schools to ensure safety and enforce traffic laws.

"It's a high priority already."

Field said parents should talk to school principals, assistant principals and deans to make sure safety protocols are followed and practiced, and talk to their kids about taking safety rules very seriously. 

"I encourage them to get involved with knowing what's going on with safety and security... Not just take it for granted that these things are being done," Field said. 

Murphy said current security measures at St. Michael Parish School include a lockdown procedure approved by Wheaton police that is practiced four times per year, locked fire and safety doors, a sign-in and visitor badge requirement for volunteers and contractors at the school and video monitoring in the building. She added that a representative from the school regularly attends the District 200 safety committee meeting for updates on preferred safety procedures. 

Harris sent a message to parents and community members Monday regarding safety in the district.

"As the details of the tragedy have unfolded, we reflect on the safety of our children. This tragedy is a reminder that we must always be mindful of student and staff safety and continually assess our procedures," he wrote.

Wheaton College Spokesman LaTonya Taylor said the college is, "constantly assessing and upgrading its safety procedures. We use a mass notification system to alert members of the campus community in case of emergencies, and have lockdown procedures as well."

Loiacono also said some parents have requested that district staff allow parents to handle discussions with their children regarding the shooting. "We want to allow parents to have that role," she said.

The district on Friday shared a PDF of talking points from the National Association of School Psychologists as a resource for parents. The resource addresses talking to children about violence and tragedy, with ways to allow children to express their feelings and how discussions may vary depending on the child's age.

For updates from Newtown, CT, go to Newtown.Patch.com.

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