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Peninsula School District Responds to CT School Shooting

Communities across the nation mourn the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, CT, this morning, including Gig Harbor.

The mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school Friday morning horrified the nation and left parents questioning how they can protect their children.

Twenty-seven people were killed—the majority of them children between the ages of 5 and 10—at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The violence is the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

Schools are perceived as a safe place for kids, though few have security measures in place to defend against violence like what happened at Sandy Hook School.

The school's doors are locked at 9:30 a.m., and visitors are required to sign in, according to the Sandy Hook School website. When violence erupted Friday morning, the school went on "lockdown," according to media reports. That means teachers and staff locked students inside classrooms rather than risk evacuation.

Stories of heroic teachers and school staffers at the school have emerged. One teacher locked all of her students in a closet to protect them, the Huffington Post reported.

Parents were notified by a reverse 911 call that went out to all Newtown public school families, NBC reported.

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The Peninsula School District has a protocol in place for emergency situations.

Acting Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto released the following statement to parents via email and on the district website Friday afternoon:

Our heartfelt thoughts go out to the students, families and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary due to this horrible tragedy and senseless loss of life. As colleagues and educational professionals, the safety of our students and school communities is always at the forefront of our efforts. 

Our District has extensive and thorough crisis response plans that address a full-range of emergency situations, including school lockdowns.   

Our district and school plans have been developed in coordination with local law enforcement emergency responders and Pierce County Emergency Management. Our preparedness should be a source of reassurance to our students and families.

The District has been in contact with the Pierce County Sheriff’s office who, in a collaborative effort with the Gig Harbor Police Department, are making it a priority to have a presence near our schools, especially our elementary schools, for the remainder of the day.

It is important for our schools and staff to be knowledgeable about these plans and our schools regularly conduct drills in order to be able to respond as effectively as possible during emergencies.

The issue of school safety, particularly as it relates to a shooting such as this, is an important topic for all communities. As we have seen over the last few months, gun violence in public settings is a concern for all of us.

All of our schools are vigilant in their efforts to keep students and staff safe. In light of this tragedy, we will use the information from the situation to review our emergency response plans as well as our school security and campus visitor procedures. 

Join the local discussion on Friday's tragedy with Patch:

  • Connecticut School Shooting: Is Your Child Safe in the Classroom Anymore?
  • Is Today Not the Day to Discuss Gun Control?

Patch was on the ground today at Sandy Hook. Read more on Newtown Patch:

  • Patch Exclusive: 'It Wasn't Me' Man Named as Shooter Writes
  • Report: Gunman's Mother Was Target and School's Kindergarten Teacher
  • Reaction: Sandy Hook School Shooting
  • Police Raid Sandy Hook Home Hours After Shooting
Sonja Alley December 15, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Thank You for using this tragedy to review your emergency response plan however coming from a security standpoint and working with Department of Correction for almost 15 years, we should not wait for an emergency to put in place response procedures, when it comes to children not only in our community but everywhere we should be proactive and not wait for an emergency to respond. My Son goes to Artondale preschool and upon initial meeting with the teachers I asked about security and what they do to ensure the children are safe, the response was to lock a door. To me that is not a response not did it satisfy my apprehension, as the modulars are apart from the main school building and anyone can walk down to them. I understand the difficulty and stringency that is created when strict security practices are in place, however safety and security is not convenient. It would be my thought that if parents where slightly inconvienienced due to new security implemented for the safety of our children they would understand and appreciate the efforts to prevent such tradgedy from happening in our community. It simply should not take tradgedy to review what we should do in an "emergency" but rather how we react and prevent such things.
Mary LaPierre December 17, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I agree with you Sonja. I have a child at an Elementary School. I will withhold the name for security purposes, and am also very concerned about security there. Anyone can walk in the front doors of the school and gain access to classrooms.There is also a gate that leads to the recess areas that is left wide open on the side of the school for anyone to access. I drove by today at noon and it is still open. Even after I contacted the schools principle this morning!! I am waiting to hear from the school to see what measures will be taken to protect our children!! Something as simple as locking a gate is so small of an inconvenience to help keep our children safe! I also think that locking the front doors when school starts is also a small inconvenience for the school to protect our children. All concerned parents should voice their concerns! I was the first person to contact the school today about this, to my surprise, I hope other concerned parents will as well, so we can do our best to protect our kids!!

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