Although information has now been released that the gunman in the Newtown school shootings gained entry to Sandy Hook elementary school by force, bypassing a newly installed security system, the human element is being credited for possibly saving the lives of many others during the massacre.
A custodian ran through the halls alerting teachers and administrators of a “gunman on the loose” as someone else turned on an intercom so teachers could hear the chaos and take defensive measures.
It worked; teachers are being credited with saving lives after they hustled students into closets and bathrooms.
“Diligence is still the best defense any school has to avoid this type of situation,” Avon Lake Superintendent of Schools Bob Scott, who called the incident “mind-boggling,” said the day of the shootings. “Everyone listening and watching must be our first defense.”
Both Avon and Avon Lake have plans in place with their respective police and fire departments.
“We work with local police to run different safely drills, including lock-down and evacuation drills,” Avon Superintendent Mike Laub said. “All of our safety drills are done in conjunction with either the fire or police departments.”
Plans are not discussed due to confidentiality.
Both schools have undergone major upgrades in the past decade and require all visitors to be buzzed into buildings. Camera systems at all schools in both districts allow school personnel to see visitors before they let them in.
Both school have comprehensive plans. Laub said plans with the police and fire departments are “very thorough.”
Scott said Avon Lake uses A.L.I.C.E. “A.L.i. C.E is of course our plan if an intruder enters the building,” Scott said. “It’s in place, aggressive, practiced and hopefully something we will never use.”
When faced with an “active shooter’ or violent intruder, A.L.i.C.E. Program (Alert, Lockdown, inform, Counter, Evacuate) prepares employers, workers, teachers and students who may find themselves facing extreme danger.
Avon sent two messages out to parents, one of which is on the schools website.
“Our administrative team along with our guidance counselors, school psychologists and a representative from the Avon Police Department met Sunday to review the plan that will be discussed with staff Monday morning,” the message from Laub said.
The site also provided these tips for parents/caregivers on how to help students:
- Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event A GUIDE FOR PARENTS, CAREGIVERS, AND TEACHERS
- How To Talk To Your Kids About The Conn. Shootings
- National Institute of Mental Health - Best to Use
- A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope