Mt. Vernon Register-News

December 15, 2012

Local schools have emergency plans in place


MT. VERNON — — Nothing can prepare a school or a community for a tragedy such as the school shootings in Connecticut.

“It’s just horrible, a true tragedy,” Hamilton-Jefferson County Superintendent of Schools Ron Daniels said. “As administrators, educators, it’s unthinkable. I mean, one entire class is gone. My gosh, it makes me sick just talking about it.”

But, could it happen here?

“Many schools have — where the doors to the building are electronically locked — a buzzer that has to be unlocked from the office to get in,” Daniels said. “Honestly, the gunman was the son of one of the teachers (in Connecticut). It’s not likely he would have been stopped.”

Daniels said all schools in the area have an emergency plan.

“Every school has an emergency plan to put their school on lockdown,” Daniels said. “Every school is required to run an emergency drill each year.”

The emergency plan and drill is in addition to fire drills, disaster or a tornado drill.

“It’s for something like this when you have a gunman or a security threat,” Daniels said. “I think the key in this type of situation is having an emergency plan. You can not stop the act, I believe, but while you can’t stop the incident, you can minimize the effect. ... It’s a cruel way to say it, but it’s the truth, I believe. ... What the emergency plan is, that if you hear a problem or an announcement is made, the school can go on lockdown as quickly as possible to protect others and the impact of the threat hurting anyone else.”

Daniels said until there are funds to have electronic entries to school buildings, with a security guard checking identification or a metal detector, events such as the shooting in Connecticut could still happen. And, even with the additional security measures, someone could still get through.

Woodlawn Grade School and High School were recently placed on lockdown under emergency plans at those schools following the robbery of Community First Bank of the Heartland in Woodlawn three weeks ago.

“In that type of situation, when we know someone dangerous is in the area, a secretary, school official or teacher would be more cautious,” Daniels said. “It’s unlikely someone would enter the school.”

Daniels said the shooting in Connecticut is something that “is unthinkable.”

“It’s just so awful,” Daniels said.