“You can’t look at the pictures of the little six- and seven-year-olds and not be upset,” School Board president Roy Lester said of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last Friday. “School is supposed to be a very safe area. But this is not the first time in this country that things like this have happened.”
With sadness over the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School came renewed concerns about school security. One of the main concerns, said Superintendent of Schools David Weiss, is making students and staff feel safe, especially children, who returned to school in the district two weeks after Hurricane Sandy.
School officials said that they have reviewed the district’s safety protocols following the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary and are being proactive. Nearly two months after Hurricane Sandy, Long Beach is still in the midst of a recovery; many residents remain displaced or are working to rebuild their homes.
“People’s emotions in general in Long Beach right now are very fragile,” said Weiss.
School officials took action within hours of the shooting. Though the events in Newtown were an isolated incident, and there was no elevated threat level for Long Beach schools, Weiss said that the events warranted a review of the district’s school safety procedures.
“I think that everybody in the school wants to feel safer,” he said. “So we’re going to do what we can to make them feel safer.”
Weiss said the district has tested the security at all of its buildings, and conferred with its security and safety consultants. Some appropriate changes were made, though Weiss declined to go into detail.
Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney said that the Police Department is working with the district to go over its safety protocols.
“The schools have enhanced their existing safety operations, and there was a meeting recently between the superintendent and City Manager regarding school safety,” Tangney said. “[The district] is doing a much more controlled entry point.”
Additionally, counselors from the school district are reaching out to families who have felt rattled by the incident, and children can see a school counselor if they choose, Weiss said.