Friday, December 14, 2012
SAN DIEGO School staff, teachers and parents across the country are grappling with how to respond to Friday's tragic mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
Kyla Calvert, KPBS Education Reporter
Mark Sauer, KPBS Senior News Editor
Wendell Callahan, Director of Assessment, Research & Pupil Services, San Diego County Office of Education
Christie Barnes, author of the Paranoid Parent Guide
California schools are required to have site-specific safety plans for responses to every type of emergency. Wendell Callahan, who works on school safety issues for the San Diego County Office of Education, told KPBS Midday Edition that schools review and revise those plans after every event like the Newtown, Conn. shooting.
“One of the things we learned out of the Columbine shooting was the first responders didn’t have good access to the school site and weren’t familiar with the physical plant for example," he said. "And so an important component of that safety plan is a basic set of blueprints, codes for all the alarm systems.”
In addition to those school plans, San Diego Unified principals can contact school counselors and district crisis response teams for help in talking with students about the shootings, according to a district email.
A spokeswoman for Carlsbad Unified School District said school officials asked the city's police department to increase patrols near schools as a precaution. Carlsbad's Kelly Elementary School was the site of San Diego County's most recent school shooting. In 2010, Brendan O'Rourke jumped over a fence and opened fire while students were outside for recess. His gun jammed and he was subdued by three construction workers who were working near the school.
Christie Barnes, author of the Paranoid Parent Guide, told KPBS that parents should limit kids’ time watching the news and answer their questions with age-appropriate information without increasing their fear.
“But also school is the safest place for them to be," she said. "The odds of this happening is very rare and you’re there and your teachers are there to protect them. At the same time, you want to make sure that your school is protected.”
Schools must make their safety plans available to the public and parents can request to be part of reviewing and developing the plans.