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St. Lawrence Central School continues to focus on school security

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BRASHER FALLS - One month after 26 people, including 20 students, were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., officials in the St. Lawrence Central School District are continuing to review their security procedures to keep a similar incident from occurring locally.

Middle school Principal Christopher W. Rose told board of education members this week they continue to look for “holes” in their lockdown and lockout procedures.

“We are in pretty good shape with the way things are done,” he said.

In fact, Mr. Rose said, the procedures they used in Sandy Hook to prevent more people from being killed are similar to what they have in place at St. Lawrence Central.

He noted that their biggest concerns they’re addressing involve large gatherings, such as in cafeterias or school assemblies.

“We’ve come up with some new ways to address” those concerns, Mr. Rose said.

“We’ve gone over the new changes with teachers,” he said, and those changes have also been included in their “teacher crisis folders” that would be used in the event of an emergency.

School officials had also told board members in December that they were reviewing their security procedures following the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and they felt comfortable that their plan addressed what would need to be done should a similar incident occur at their school.

Superintendent Stephen M. Putman had noted that, depending on the type of emergency, they had 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.

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.

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

Mr. Rose also noted in December that another part of their lockdown procedures called for only a few district officials to have keys that can access rooms. “They don’t come out until we unlock it,” he said.

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