Changes are being made in the Cuyahoga Falls City School District's safety plans to amp up security in the wake of the shooting deaths at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14. District officials have met and plan additional meetings with safety services officials over the next two weeks, according to Superintendent Dr. Todd M. Nichols. "We will be examining our current practices in an attempt to create the safest environment possible for our students, staff, and community," Nichols reported in a Dec. 20 email to the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press.
Nichols said his administrative team met with the Falls Police Dec. 17, and have identified "three additional levels of security" that will be implemented.
"… Our buildings have been far too accessible; thus, each building principal has been asked to identify one point of entry and to institute procedures to monitor the entrance …" said Nichols in an AlertNow phone message that was also posted on the district's Facebook page. "Second, our staff is being asked to lock and close their doors during instruction and to open their doors during passing time. As we have seen, tragedy happens in those classrooms that are easily accessible. Third, we will continue to allocate resources such that our video surveillance systems can be upgraded and monitored." In a posting on the district's Facebook page Dec. 19, Nichols said school officials will meet with police and fire department representatives over winter recess to "continue to evaluate the situation and our ability to use an entry system."
Nichols said there will be an "increased presence of our Cuyahoga Falls Police Department," and added he hoped "the increased presence provides our students, staff, and parents greater peace of mind."
Nichols encouraged residents to work together and alert district officials if they "notice anything suspicious, hear anything suspicious, or have any suggestions for us."
He concluded by telling parents and grandparents to "hug your kids today and every day."
The superintendent said a focus at the elementary school level remains striving for normalcy. "First and foremost," according to Nichols, "we don't want to scare the students and believe it's a parent's decision to talk to their children as they see fit." The superintendent reported that decision was arrived at in consultation with the school district's parent organizations. At the middle and high school level, Nichols said students are writing letters, donating stuffed animals and making snowflakes per the request of the Parent Teacher School Association in Newtown.
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