Hearts all over the world are going out to the 27 victims and families of the Connecticut Elementary school tragedy, and parents are concerned with the safety of their children.
School districts in Seneca County are assuring parents security plans are in place.
Due to the recent tragedy, Tiffin City Schools Superintendent Don Coletta addressed the TCS Board of Education Tuesday.
"We have received a number of questions about our school safety plans and emergency procedures," Coletta said. "It is important to us that you are comfortable with our safety procedures."
Each elementary school has a call box system in place that visitors must use to enter the building. Then, they are to go directly to the office to sign in and receive a visitor's badge. Signs on the doors of the middle and high school instruct visitors to go directly to the office, where they must follow the same procedure.
A faculty member who sees someone without a badge will direct that person to the office.
The school system also has a board-approved School Emergency Procedures Ready Reference Manual that was revised in September. By law, the school conducts drills on a regular basis throughout the year for students and staff to be ready in case of a fire, tornado, intruders or other emergency situation.
"We also have a safety committee that meets three to four times a year to review, modify and update our safety plans," Coletta said. The committee includes the police chief, city and township fire chiefs, the county sheriff, representatives from the State Highway Patrol and emergency management association, a parent and school staff members.
Each of the buildings and offices are numbered and color-coded and placed in a master floor plan provided to police and fire officials so that they have an accurate floor plan, Coletta said.
In addition to the safety committee there is a Continuous Improvement Planning team that has a subcommittee specifically designed to discuss student and staff safety. The three-year plan is revised every year.
"We will continue to have safety goals in our next Continuous Improvement Plan, which will replace our current plan next school year," Coletta said. "Once these goals are selected, teachers and support staff will begin working on action plans that will implement these goals in each building."
"We are committed to doing everything we can to provide a safe environment for our students and staff," Coletta said. "It is, without question, our primary responsibility."
Coletta encourages members of the community to provide input about the safety plans. To reach him, call (419) 447-2515.
Calvert Catholic Schools has had security procedures in place for many years.
"I am very fortunate to have these procedures in place," Superintendent, Hank Elchert said. "Each member of the community is familiar with these processes and have become accustomed to them."
Fostoria City Schools Superintendent Steven Pritts informed members of the Fostoria City Schools Board of Education meeting Monday that at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, there were in-services conducted addressing the safe environment at each of the districts buildings along with the need and resources available, for addressing bullying issues.
"The Fostoria City School District has been and continues to be proactive in ensuring the safety of our students, staff and visitors in our schools," Pritts said.
"We have also been diligently working on the Fostoria City Schools Response Plan Template," Pritts said. The emergency response template was developed by an executive committee composed of representatives from Fostoria City Schools, St. Wendelin Schools, Wood County Educational Service Center, Fostoria Police Department, Fostoria Fire Department and Seneca County Emergency Management Agency.
"In March, members of each of the buildings' Safe Schools Committees will participate in table-top exercises involving responding to different crisis scenarios," Pritts said. "We have updated security cameras and security access at points of entrance to the schools. Two resource officers are also on duty throughout the district on a daily basis."
"We are doing everything we can do to protect our students," New Riegel Superintendent Elaine Nye said.
The New Riegel Local School District conducts annual school lock-down drills, as required by law. After morning bell, every door to the building is locked and visitors must enter the building through the front door using a call box system. After a visitor is OK'd, they must go to the office, sign in and receive a badge. Nye said there are plans for a system that would lock the doors leading to individual wings of the school.
"These discussions are just in the first stages, but they are being discussed," Nye said.
With a new building under construction, the Hopewell-Loudon School District had been reviewing safety plans with the Seneca County Sheriff's Office before last Friday. Superintendent Nichole Jiran said there is limited access to the building and the doors are locked at all times. The school is equipped with a call box and camera system and faculty and staff are to wear their issued ID badges. The school has sent home a letter for parents about the school's Comprehensive Safety Plan.
"We want to remind parents to be patient, they have to be buzzed in and confirmation has to be made," Jiran said. "Visitors also will be asked to provide their State ID. We don't want anyone to be offended; it is just procedure."