Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—While the mourning continues in Connecticut, it was back to school for hundreds of thousands of Maryland students.
Derek Valcourt has more on how local school systems handled the first day back to class since the Newtown shootings.
Education may be their top priority, but on Monday schools were dealing with the anxieties of students, parents, teachers and even principals.
When shots rang out at Perry Hall High School on the first day of school, school leaders sprang into action launching a thorough review of security at all Baltimore County schools and creating a new security office.
And in light of what happened in Newtown, school superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance says those changes will make schools safer.
“We have changed our focus to make sure that it’s all being proactive,” Dance said. “That’s how you keep kids safe. It’s great to have protocols in place to address the reactionary items. But you really have to make sure you are doing everything on the front end.”
Part of that front end is an increased police presence. In Baltimore County and Howard County police provided extra patrols around the schools Monday because school leaders know what happened in Newtown could happen anywhere.
Howard County superintendent Renee Foose says all of her schools held faculty meetings Monday morning to review emergency plans in each building and to discuss the safety measures in place for monitoring visitors.
“Our schools and our staff train monthly to make sure that we are rehearsed on what the security plans are and would be able to react in much the same way as they did in Connecticut,” Foose said.
Most areas schools brought in counselors to help students still struggling to cope with happened in Connecticut.
Both Howard and Baltimore counties say only some of their schools have a security buzzer system at the door that allows staff to monitor and control who can enter the building.
Officials say they are looking into the cost and feasibility of outfitting all of their schools with such a system.