School officials offer consoling words

Dec. 21, 2012 @ 08:58 AM

There were a few solemn moments this week during a Guilford County Board of Education meeting.
The meeting opened with a video of President Barak Obama’s recorded message about the deaths of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.  Obama said his feelings were those of a parent. The meeting closed with consoling comments from board members, who also sounded like parents.
In between, a parent called for security upgrades.
“There should be only one way in and out of our schools, and all doors should be locked after school starts,” said Monica Clendenin of Greensboro.
Clendenin also suggested using automatic locking doors that require people to “buzz” to get inside. 
“The board should address these issues and have school resource officers at elementary schools,” she said.
Nora Carr, district chief of staff, briefed the board on what school officials have done since the shootings.
“Personal relationships between students and teachers, more than metal detectors and equipment, make more of a difference in these matters,” Carr said. “We also should let children know that they should report any concerns to a trusted adult.” 
Board members did not address security specifics, however.
“We know people have these concerns,” said Chairman Alan Duncan. “We can’t share all of the details on security for obvious reasons.”
Board members offered support for the families of the slain children and for the district staff.
“Hug a teacher, a bus driver or a cafeteria worker,” said board member Jeff Belton.  “These people are just like the ones who died to protect children without concern for themselves.”
Several board members said they would remember the mourning families in their prayers and they asked everyone to do the same.
“It is hard to talk about this,” said board member Darlene Garrett. “It was so heinous. We should pray for these families.”
Violence is a problem Americans have not been able to shake, said board member Amos Quick.
“There is no national response for so many others who die this way,” Quick said. “We see deaths every day. We must have more concern for our children.”


Safety

Drills: Schools that have not had a lockdown drill will have one soon.

Procedures: Principals are reviewing their safety procedures and officials are checking lighting and door locks. 

Protection: The district has about 20 school resource officers assigned to middle schools and 20 to high schools to provide additional security. Police are stepping up patrols, particularly around elementary schools which do not have school resource officers.