PIEDMONT -- As the nation reels from the tragedy that unfolded Dec. 14 in the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, the Piedmont Unified School District is taking immediate steps to address the issues of safety and comfort for all its students.
"We are all shaken by the news in Connecticut, and we will certainly be reviewing our emergency plans in light of any information that we can apply that comes from how this tragic event unfolded," Superintendent Connie Hubbard said Tuesday.
A letter was distributed to parents on the afternoon of the shootings to provide them with tools in how to process events as students learned of the tragedy and were deluged with media coverage over the weekend. Resource materials were provided to staff over the weekend to be available first thing Monday morning, Hubbard said. "All counselors and support personnel are working with students, staff and parents as requested. Schools are still processing, and we are focused on reinforcing with our students that school is a safe place for them despite this horrific isolated event," Hubbard said.
Interim police Chief Scott Wyatt said police have blueprints of all the Piedmont schools, including the private ones such as Corpus Christi. They also have done walk-throughs at the schools to keep updated on what is where.
About a month ago, Wyatt sent all the officers to "active-shooter training" to prepare for any incident similar to Newtown.
"It's very realistic training, very dynamic training to go after the bad guy to stop the threat," he said. "Our first priority is to stop the damage, rescue and evacuate. We are continuing the training in-house."
The school district is moving forward on two fronts. The first is to review and improve where necessary all safety issues that can be mitigated by "equipment" such as communications systems and alarms. The second is to have procedures and protocols that are consistently followed at each site. The discussion will involve the community because it will require a commitment by all who frequent the school sites to follow and enforce safety protocols.
"We as a school community will work with city agencies, parents and broader community to implement all procedures that can make our schools as safe as possible," Hubbard said.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson urged all school superintendents to review their security measures and keep staff and parents alert.