Efforts to keep area students safe in schools ongoing


(WKTV) - Gone are the days when educators had the luxury of focusing primarily on educating children.

These days, much time must be devoted throughout the school year to meeting with national experts on active-shooter scenarios.

As officials in Sparks, Nev., try to figure out what led a student there to enter a middle school with a gun and shoot and kill a teacher and injure two students, local students ask parents if they're safe in their schools.

And parents struggle with what to tell them.

"I tell them if something does happen, hide," said Kim DeMichele, a Utica parent of an elementary school and high school student. "Do whatever you have to do to protect yourselves. Only you can protect yourselves.

"And it's sad that I have to send them to school with that thought in their mind."

BOCES District Superintendent Howard Mettelman says children are safe in their local schools, thanks to the vigilant efforts of many.

"On the prevention side, (we've done) everything from building walk-throughs, building assessments for security purposes and safety purposes (and) the single points of entry in each of the buildings," he said.

Mettelman says school have also emphasized reducing harassment and bullying and making sure students feel safe. He says the efforts to keep students safe is ongoing. 

Almost every school district in Oneida County has an armed school resource officer at or near their single points of entry. They travel the campus as needed. 

What should you tell your child if they ask if they're safe in their school?

"We need to reassure children their schools are safe, that people care about them and we do the very best we can to minimize anyone coming in," says Mettelman.

"When they come to school, do they see their teacher in the halls? Do they see their principal meet them at the door? Is there a school resource officer there?" he said. "There are safety nets built in that many students don't see."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder addressed active-shooter scenarios during a conference of police chiefs in Pennsylvania on Monday. Holder said that the incidents went from five a year from 2000-20008, to 12 a year since 2009.


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