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Additional security is being added at Brunswick County elementary schools just days after a gunman opened fire in a deadly rampage at a Connecticut elementary school last Friday.
Until further notice the county’s elementary schools will have a sheriff’s office deputy on site, school officials said. Area middle and high schools already have school resource officers (SRO) assigned to them.
The increase in security followed shock after 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 26 people—including 20 children—at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., around 9:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 14.
Lanza, who killed himself in the school, also shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at her home before going on the shooting rampage.
“We are all shocked and saddened beyond belief at the tragic event that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., this morning,” Brunswick County Schools Superintendent Edward Pruden told parents Friday. “Even as we try to comprehend what has happened, we will naturally ask about the safety precautions in place in our schools.”
While Pruden said the district will not reveal specific details about schools’ safety plans, he reminded the community about general safety measures already in place.
In addition to the newly added deputies for elementary schools and the existing SROs at middle and high schools, each school has a safety and security plan. Included is that all exterior doors are locked at all times. Anyone who visits must enter through the front door and sign in.
“The school system works closely with the sheriff’s department and Brunswick Emergency Services to update our safety plans as new lessons are learned from tragedies such as (Friday’s),” he said. “Rest assured that if there is anything to be learned from this tragedy, we will do so and will refine our safety plans accordingly. Our hearts and prayers go out to those grieving the sudden and tragic loss of a loved one.”
As Connecticut State Police continued to investigate the shooting Monday, including details on a motive, it was another school day as normal here in Brunswick County.
Krys Clemmons of Supply has children at Supply Elementary, Little Sandpipers Learning Center and Cuddle Bears Daycare. She thinks preschools and daycares should have officers as well.
“They matter, too,” she said.
Lavonda Fullwood of Longwood said each morning as she drives her children to the bus-stop, she says a prayer for her family, friends and herself.
“From that point on, I go throughout my day not worrying about a thing because I’ve left it in God’s hands,” she said.
She said she appreciates local school officials proactively looking at ways to keep children safe.
“I do think SROs should be placed in all schools, not just middle and high schools,” she said.
Allison Smith of Ocean Isle Beach said she found it reassuring to see an armed sheriff at schools, “but (is) saddened our society requires such measures.”
Before dropping her daughter, a kindergartener, off at school Monday morning, Chasity Johnson of Supply told her daughter a police officer would be there. She made sure her little girl, who goes to Virginia Williamson Elementary, knew the officer was there to help and that she shouldn’t be afraid.
“But I do feel it should not stop,” Johnson said. “There should always be a police officer at the schools.”
Johnson works at Tiny Tots Child Care Center and said an officer stopped by recently and walked the halls.
“I am very thankful that they are seeking ways to help keep our children safe and hope it continues,” she said.
In the aftermath of the shootings, President Barack Obama and N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue ordered all U.S. and North Carolina flags be lowered to half-staff until sunset on Dec. 18 in tribute to the shooting victims.