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Local schools express condolences, review safety policies after CT shooting

12:36 AM, Dec 15, 2012   |    comments
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In his 40 years as an educator, a lot has changed for Anderson County Director of Schools Larry Foster.

"I never thought I would see the day where we would have armed officers in our schools," Foster said.

He also said he could have never imagined a mass shooting at an elementary school. The shooting in at Sandyhook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut killed 26 people, 20 of them children.

"Our hearts go out to those families that are being told their child was murdered," he said.

Foster said this tragedy impacts him not only emotionally, but as an administrator.

"It puts you on high alert because we have found it can happen anywhere," Foster said.

The investigation into Friday's shooting is still in early stages and there are many details unknown.  But it naturally raises the question for every parent: what are the safety policies in place at their neighborhood school?

At Anderson County Schools, their current safety procedures require armed School Resource Officers at their elementary, middle, and high schools.

Every school door is also required to be locked, except for one, that forces visitors to pass through the main office.

"That is something we preach over and over. It's not a one time deal," he said. "No one is to open those doors unless they have a badge identifying themselves."

There is also an emergency safety plan the principals review each year with their staff.

Foster said they plan to look at that policy again and refresh their employees.

Knox County's Director of Schools, Jim McIntyre, also expressed his condolences.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the children and families of Newtown, Connecticut today as they grapple with this horrendous tragedy. The safety of our children is our highest priority in Knox County Schools every single day. Our community should know that we work proactively and collaboratively with the outstanding law enforcement agencies in Knoxville, and with our dedicated staff to provide for the safety of our students and the security of our schools."


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