Area schools prepare for the possibility of an intruder on campus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The first day back to school after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., had parents across the country wondering and worrying about the safety of their children.

Parents, teachers and the principal at English Landing Elementary School in the Park Hill district faced questions on Monday.

Kim Dietzman, a parent of an 11-year-old, admitted it was difficult to send her 5th-grader out of her sight to school Monday morning. Dietzman said she considered homeschooling her four kids after hearing about Friday's Connecticut school massacre.

"It makes you think. Anything could happen in the blink of an eye," Dietzman said.

English Landing's Principal, Dr. Kerry Roe, said returning the classroom to normal and giving students the same routine on Monday gave the children comfort.

Teachers addressed the school shooting at minimum in classrooms.

"My teacher talked a little bit about how school will always be safe and we should never worry and that's all she told us," 5th grader Kyle Dietzman said.

Park Hill School District, like most other districts, routinely practice lockdown drills to prepare for an intruder.

Roe said her students practice the drills in detail, huddling in a corner of their room, out of sight of the classroom door.

Exterior and interior cameras follow every move inside the school.

In the last year, the Park Hill district installed new panic buttons in schools so staff can have immediate access to the police force.

"If we needed, we would push the panic button and authorities would arrive immediately," Roe explained. "It's a direct signal that something is happening at English Landing."

The school will upgrade its entrance next spring. The new construction will make it physically impossible for the public to access the interior of the school without permission.

At least one local college has also trained its teachers, staff and students a plan of action if the campus was locked down.

Johnson County Community College participates in the ALICE program -- Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.

"We just felt like we wanted to give our faculty and staff and students the best tools available so that they would be prepared. Should the unthinkable happen on our campus, we wanted to give them the best training we could give them," said Janelle Vogler, of JCCC.

More than 1,600 faculty and staff have trained so far. Next semester, the program will also be available to students.
 

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