Bay Area Schools Reach Out Post-Newtown

Monday was not your typical school day anywhere across the country, and that includes the Bay Area

She walked with her 7-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter into Gardner Academy, an elementary school in San Jose, holding their hands a little tighter.

On Monday, this San Jose mother of two, Lainna Romero, was emotional as she thought about the parents who lost their little ones in Newtown, Conn., in the Friday morning mass shooting.

“I can’t imagine what the parents are going through, and I do worry about safety precautions at our schools,” Romero said.

Leticia Duenas, an instructional aide for preschoolers at Gardner, said that the school does train employees regularly to prepare for crisis situations.

“They do lock the gates,” Duenas said. “In the morning they open those gates and after school they close it.”

She added that times are different from when she was in school, with not just fire and earthquake safety drills, but routine practice of lockdowns just about every month.

San Jose Unified School District sent out an automated call to families reassuring them that school officials have safety measures and security protocols in place. Milpitas Unified School District did the same. Officials at Campbell Union School District posted up a message of their own, informing parents that the district conducts regular safety drills with local first responders and enforces strict visitor policies.

The message to school administrators of revisiting school precautions and safety measures is what Tom Torlakson, state Supt. of Public Instruction, and Mark Ghilarducci, secretary of California Emergency Management Agency, sent to district and county leaders across the state over the weekend.

They said even though the Connecticut mass shooting was an isolated and rare event, “any steps you can take now to be prepared for any emergency are extremely important. Some of the most heinous plots to do harm to our schools and communities have been thwarted by the simple actions of alert and prepared individuals.”

Some of the measures they urged school administrators included:

  • Evaluate and refine security plans, test and exercise crisis plans
  • Proactive effort of visitor access and control
  • Review emergency communications procedures
  • Reinforce perimeter security

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