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St. Lawrence Central discusses emergency preparedness plans

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BRASHER FALLS - St. Lawrence Central officials say that while no emergency plan is perfect to protect against shootings like the one last week in Newtown, Conn., they feel comfortable that their plan addresses what needs to be done should a similar incident occur at there school.

“We do the best we can, and we take it seriously,” Superintendent Stephen M. Putman told board of education members Wednesday night.

Twenty-six people, including 20 students, were killed last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The shooter also killed his mother and turned the gun on himself at the school,.

Mr. Putman said, depending on the type of emergency, they have different responses: shelter in place, lockout drills and lockdown drills.

Shelter in place, he said, is the lowest level. He said it was used, for instance, when an ambulance had to take somebody from the elementary school on a stretcher, and they did not want to scare the children over incident.

Lockout drills are used if they receive any information about a person in the community who might cause harm at the school. In those cases, they lock all the doors, including the front door to the schools.

“We’ve used that once or twice,” Mr. Putman said.

The worse-case scenario, such as the one at Sandy Hook, would result in a lockdown of the school, with everything locked. If a student is in the hallway, the nearest teacher is instructed to grab the child and bring him or her into his room before locking the door.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s your kid,” Mr. Putman said. “Praise the Lord, we’ve never had to use it.”

He said teachers have been practicing lockdown drills for several years.

“We haven’t practiced it in a while. We didn’t practice it this week for obvious reasons,” he said. “Our teachers are really great about it. It’s clear to me that at Connecticut they had practiced it also.”

High school Principal Lisa L. Grenville said, if they ever had to institute a lockdown, school employees have the capability to call the lockdown under the new phone system in place. She said anyone who has an access code can plug it in to access the intercom system and declare a lockdown.

Middle school Principal Christopher W. Rose said another part of their lockdown procedures calls for only three or four district officials to have keys that can access rooms.

“Only three or four of us walk around with a key. They don’t come out until we unlock it,” he said.

Mr. Putman said they have “very specific lockdown procedures” that aren’t available to the general public.

“We do not do, because it’s not recommended by the New York State Police, is publicize our lockdown procedures,” he said.

“There is no perfect system,” he said, “but we have pretty good procedures.”

“I don’t think we are ever going to prevent people from doing evil things, but we can make sure we’re proactive,” Ms. Grenville noted.

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