In the aftermath of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, CT on Dec. 14, the Glen Ellyn Police Department has assured Glen Ellyn school officials they will be providing an increased police presence around schools, a school official said.
Officials from Glen Ellyn District 41 and Community Consolidated School District 89 have said safety of students and staff is of paramount importance and will continue to take safety seriously.
At District 89 every access point in district schools are locked at all times and visitors to all buildings must be buzzed in through the main front doors, which are also always locked, the district said in a statement to the school community. Once inside a visitor must check in at the main office.
All of the buildings in District 89 have security cameras, the district said.
At District 41, security procedures vary depending on the school, said Julie Worthen, director of communications and grants at the district. The procedure depends on the building design.
Worthen said that at Hadley Junior High, Abraham Lincoln, Forest Glen and Ben Franklin elementary schools, a visitor may enter the vestibule but cannot get into the building without going through the office, where they sign in and receive a badge.
But, at Churchill Elementary School, the school office is across the hall from the vestibule; the doors are locked and office staff can see visitors before buzzing them in, she said.
“We were assured today (Monday) by the Glen Ellyn Police Department that there will be an increased police presence around our schools this week,” Worthen said.
In a message Monday to District 41 parents, Superintendent Ann Riebock said:
Today, we greet our students with a heightened awareness of their preciousness and of our responsibility to their wellbeing. As we focus on educating students, our staff members are always vigilant for their safety and for their state of mind. With the Sandy Hook tragedy the focus of constant news coverage, many children have heard something about it. We will be paying extra attention to any signs of distress among our children so that we can respond quickly and appropriately. If you see such signs in your child, please let the teacher know. All of our schools have trained social workers, psychologists and in the case of Hadley, counselors, who can help us support our students. These staff members are important resources and teachers know they can call upon them for help if they notice that a child is upset or withdrawn.
Along with an increased police presence, principals at District 89 are also on heightened alert and will be personally checking access points in schools to ensure they are locked at all times, according to District 89.
In a statement to parents, the district said:
District 89 has a detailed crisis management plan in place which ensures prompt, efficient, and effective responses to emergencies. This plan is updated annually with input provided by Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Lombard and DuPage County emergency responders. We work cooperatively with these agencies so that emergency responders are familiar with our crisis plan and can respond accordingly. Crisis drills take place at the administration and individual schools levels. Because there are usually lessons to be learned from each incident, as details from today’s tragedy emerge, our crisis plan will be reviewed and adjusted if necessary.
Riebock offered tips for parents from the National Association of School Psychologists to help children cope with news.
What Parents Can Do:
- Focus on your children over the week following the tragedy. Tell them you love them and everything will be okay. Try to help them understand what has happened, keeping in mind their developmental level.
- Stay close to your children. Your physical presence will reassure them and give you the opportunity to monitor their reaction. Many children will want actual physical contact. Give plenty of hugs. Let them sit close to you, and make sure to take extra time at bedtime to cuddle and to reassure them that they are loved and safe.
- Limit your child's television viewing of these events. If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the set off. Don't sit mesmerized re-watching the same events over and over again.
- Maintain a "normal" routine. To the extent possible stick to your family's normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc., but don't be inflexible. Children may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night.
- Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed. These activities are calming, foster a sense of closeness and security, and reinforce a sense of normalcy. Spend more time tucking them in. Let them sleep with a light on if they ask for it.
- Safeguard your children's physical health. Stress can take a physical toll on children as well as adults. Make sure your children get appropriate sleep, exercise and nutrition.