Reassurance and providing a sense of normalcy to students were the goals of Webster City Community School staff in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shooting that left 28 dead.
Superintendent Mike Sherwood said the Friday shooting left him in "total shock" as he reflected on the untimely deaths of 20 Sandy Hook Elementary School students and six teachers.
"It's hard to put your head and your mind around it. It's so incomprehensible. It just defies any logical thought process," Sherwood said.
His thoughts soon turned to the students and staff of Webster City schools. On Friday, he talked with Webster City police chief Brian Hughes. Sherwood said police have stepped up patrols for the week. There have been no threats of violence directed at any Webster City school students, staff or facilities, but Sherwood said their visibility was reassuring.
On Sunday, school administration and counselors met to talk about reassuring students, parents and staff that school facilities are safe. All buildings had staff meetings on Monday morning, and police officers made contact with all building administrators to provide what help they could give.
"We want to provide as normal of an environment as we can," Sherwood said.
At their meetings, staff reviewed district safety procedures. There are lockdown procedures in place for all school facilities. The school has a crisis plan that deals with all types of emergencies, including natural disasters, mechanical accidents and a hostile person in a school facility.
"It was just two weeks ago that we had a lockdown in our district. It's very important that there are processes and procedures in place for when these things happen," Sherwood said.
There are many security features in place at Webster City schools. Sherwood said that there are security cameras in all school facilities. All entrances and exits are monitored, as well as hallways in the High School and Middle School. The school's transportation fleet also contains cameras. These cameras are accessible by law enforcement. Sherwood said that the districts strong relation with local law enforcement is an additional reassurance when considering the safety of school facilities.
The school also has an electronic card access system in two school buildings and will be installing them in the other two. Sherwood said that the district is in a new round of remodeling facilities and safety will be a priority when those buildings are reviewed.
A notification system that sends alerts to cell phones and emails is also in place. Sherwood said it is important that parents keep up to date information filed with the school in case such an emergency happens so they can be notified.
Sherwood said that the weekend gave families some time to process the shooting and put them more at ease. He said reviewing their safety procedures reassured parents and students who might have been wary to return to school this week. Like many however, Sherwood said the event has remained in his mind ever since.
"This event struck a real nerve in our country. This was different. It's just tragic and our thoughts, prayers and hearts go out to the people of Newtown and Sandy Hook," Sherwood said.