“We want to reassure parents and the community that the safety of our children continues to be our number one priority,” Karnes City ISD Superintendent Jeanette Winn said Monday. “It is important to keep in mind that a tragedy like this is rare and that schools are one of the safest places for children during the school day.”
The district and campuses continually review and revise emergency action plans as necessary, Winn said adding that all visitors to each campus must check in and receive a visitor’s pass through the front office.
Karnes City school entrances have been recently strengthened during renovations that began last summer. Office entrances at Roger E. Sides Elementary School and Karnes City Junior High School were secured with one single-door entrance, and other entrances into all three campus buildings remain locked during the school day.
“Rest assured that it is our primary responsibility at R.E.S. Elementary to ensure the safety of students and staff inside school buildings and while on school property,” R.E.S. Elementary Principal Demetrio Garcia said. “With our gates to the breezeway locked during school hours, visitors to the R.E.S. campus have no choice but to enter our school through our front office, where they are greeted by R.E.S. staff who can assist them.”
“As parents and guardians, it is reasonable to expect that our children will grapple with fears and unanswered questions about last week’s events in Connecticut,” Garcia said. “Together, with the help of parents, R.E.S. faculty and staff will reassure our students and children today and everyday that our school is a safe place.”
Karnes City High School Principal Tom Warlick said school staff focus every day on making the school a safe environment for learning.
“Last week’s unfortunate event reminds us the importance of taking precautions daily and having monitoring procedures to protect our students,” Warlick said.
“It is extremely hard to even imagine a tragedy like this that took the lives of precious children and brave adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Doors were locked and procedures in place. This was meaningless to the shooter who made the decision to enter the school.”
Falls City ISD Linda Bettin also talked about the importance of keeping staff and students safe.
“The number one priority of any school should be the safety of students and staff,” Bettin said. “A postive learning environment will not happen unless everyone feels safe. With that being said, Falls City ISD is committed to the safety and protection of children and staff.”
Bettin said that FCISD has emergency procedures in place and various drills are implemented throughout each year to remind everyone of the different plans. Two way radios are dispersed throughout the school district and are used in the event that a stranger has been seen around campus or to give notification of any type of emergency situation. All visitors are to sign in at the school offices before going to classrooms.
“Because we are a close-knit community, everyone knows everyone,” Bettin said. “If a stranger is seen on campus, all personnel are instructed to escort them to the school office. Several doors on campus are locked, which are not used very often throughout the day. Several staff members have gone through The National Incident Management System (NIMS) and have learned about procedures to follow in emergency situations.”
“Schools such as Falls City High School were not built for providing safety from shooters or terrorists,” Bettin said. “They were built for educational purposes. Classrooms are across breezeways and parking lots and must be accessible to students. Future plans for building a school, whether three years away or 10 years away, will include a design that will provide a better way to protect those who enter its halls.”
“The entire staff is committed to taking care of our wonderful children at all costs, just as the adults at Sandy Hook Elementary,” Bettin said. “We pray to God for the safety of all school children and staff in the nation, as well as for the families and friends of those suffering in Connecticut.”
Similar comments were made by Kenedy ISD Superintendent Brad Lane.
“We, at Kenedy ISD, always consider students and faculty safety our highest priority,” Lane said. “We have a Safety/Crisis Plan that each campus is familiar with. Our school district has a different type of safety training each month by the campus principal or the administrative director for our employees. The campuses also have drills throughout the school year for emergencies such as fire, tornado, evacuation and/or lock down. These drills include students and staff.”
“Most schools in the state follow the before mentioned procedures and trainings,” Lane said. “Various trainings and emergency plans for administrators were mandated soon after the 9-11 attacks.”
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the latest victims of the tragedy at Newtown Elementary in Connecticut,” Lane said.
Runge ISD Superintendent Janice Sykora expressed similar sentiments.
“We are all very saddened at the terrible tragedy in the Connecticut school shooting,” Sykora said. “Since Columbine, no one can say that they are immune from such a senseless event. While we are concerned about someone so far away, we may not be immune from the ‘copy cats’ who may want to garner the news spotlight someplace else. We share in the nation’s grief as we consider what we can do to improve school safety.”
“Today our teachers have locked their doors against possible intruders and have heightened awareness of visitors entering our buildings,” Sykora said. “Teachers are discussing personal safety with their students as they discuss the horrible event which many of the older students saw on the news. The administrators who have two-way radios are monitoring them. The leadership team met last month to review our school safety plan and verified that all of our evacuation drills have been completed.”