Update at 11:35 a.m: If you are willing to talk to an AJC reporter about what security measures schools are putting in place today or what measures you think they should be putting in place, please email Jeffry Scott.
The Newtown school shooting dominated conversation throughout metro Atlanta this weekend. It was referenced at concerts, sporting events and churches. Neighbors talked about it on the street. People mentioned it while waiting in line at the mall.
Should it continue to be talked about today in school?
On Friday, students were largely unaware of the horrific mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary by an apparently deranged young man who killed his mother and then slaughtered 26 people at the school, including 20 first graders, before turning the gun on himself.
My twins are in eighth grade and have read about the deaths both in the AJC and online. They grabbed the newspapers Saturday and Sunday morning and read the front page stories.
A thoughtful teacher posted this note, which raises important questions. I imagine many teachers are having the same concerns about how today will play out in their schools:
Monday will be difficult for those of us in the classrooms. We teachers began to hear “rumors” on Friday during school, as news like this travels fast – there is a heightened sense of alertness – just in case someone decides to copycat. However, the children were still innocent, so we could carry on with making the little holiday decorations and winter play practice – and if teachers’ smiles trembled a bit around the edges, who noticed?
But come Monday, that innocence will be gone. How do I make them feel safe in a world gone so insane? How do I make it all make sense for them, when I can’t make it make sense for me? How do I look into their bright, questioning eyes without crying for lost innocence and lost lives all over again?
This one hit so close to home for me.
Lord, lend me strength.
The AJC is reporting this morning that schools are taking extra security.
But a teacher sent a clarification about Briarlake Elementary in DeKalb: The teacher wrote that the “school is requiring that teachers have their door locks engaged at all times, not that they need to have their doors locked and closed at all times. Teachers have to use a key to lock the door, so the principal wanted to eliminate that step in the event of a lockdown. Classroom doors are still open, as usual, and there is no awareness of this step by any of the children.
School districts throughout metro Atlanta are taking extra precautions to assure parents that classrooms are safe after Friday’s fatal shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
As part of an emergency plan developed years ago, Gwinnett County will assign an officer to each of the county’s 102 public schools in addition to the school resource officers. “In light of what happened in Newtown, Conn., people want to feel safe, their kids want to feel safe. This is one step that Gwinnett police take to ensure that safety,” Sgt. Brian Doan of the Gwinnett County Police Department said.
At Briarlake Eelementary in DeKalb County, the principal sent an email to parents saying that teachers will now be required to lock their classrooms at all times. “You’re kind of apprehensive, but you have got to have faith that the kids will be safe at a place that they’re supposed to be safe,” DeKalb County parent Johanna Hillman said.
Clayton County will not only add patrols, but there will be extra parent volunteers in the hallways and students will be limited in terms of their movement in between classrooms.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog