Friday's mass school shooting in
Newtown, Conn., has caused many people to re-examine school safety.
Twenty elementary school students were
shot dead along with six adults at the school in the Friday tragedy,
making it the second-deadliest school shooting in United States' history, second only to Virginia Tech in 2007.
The Advocate & Democrat asked top
local school system officials what is being done to keep students
safe here in Monroe County. While mass shootings understandably
garner the most attention, there are situations such as child custody
battles and other issues that can crop up and threaten safety at any
Both director of schools for the Monroe
County and Sweetwater City school systems said they were "heartbroken" over Friday's incidents and consider the safety of
their students top priority.
"We are shocked and so saddened by
what happened in Connecticut," Sweetwater City Schools Director Dr.
Melanie Miller said. "Anytime a tragedy like this occurs it reminds
each of us just how precious life is and what a tremendous
responsibility we have taking care of the children in our school
system. We want to keep all children safe and want them to feel
"Our hearts go out to the victims in
the tragedy in Connecticut," Monroe County Director of Schools Mike Lowry
said. "It's incomprehensible that anything like this could happen,
how anyone could do that to such small children. It breaks my heart
to think about it. I can't watch it [newscasts]. It's such a tragedy
that we can't explain."
Lowry and Tim Blankenship, the
assistant director of schools for the Monroe County School System,
have been checking with each individual school every day this week,
discussing safety and student emotions.
"I've called each one of the schools
individually," said Blankenship. "Everyone felt like they had a
good climate today [Monday]. We've also been working with our city
and county police departments. We've had some discussions and there
is heightened safety awareness."
The Monroe County School System's
Maintenance Department has continued to update entryway features and
locks in the schools. Every school is set up with a buzzer system. To
enter the school building, a visitor must hit the button to buzz to
the office, who will unlock the door to allow the person to enter
once they know A. who it is, and B. what their purpose for visiting
"Anyone coming into our schools has
to come into the office and sign in after being buzzed in," said
See full story in the Wednesday, Dec. 19, edition of The Advocate & Democrat.