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Area Schools React to Connecticut Shooting with Own Plans - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Area Schools React to Connecticut School Shooting with Own Crisis Plans

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In Newtown, Connecticut on Friday a shooter opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 27 people, both students and faculty.  In face of this horrible tragedy, area school administrators emphasize it is important to be proactive, plan and prepare.  

The Virginia Board of Education requires all school divisions to annually create a specific crisis plan for each school. Every school division has detailed crisis plans in place to be ready for the worst.

School administrators emphasize that their No. 1 priority is student safety. Principals, teachers, and staff review the plans at the beginning of each school year.

There is a specific section in the crisis management plans that details what should be done if someone enters the building with a weapon. School officials say this includes steps such as locking down the building, taking cover and notifying the police. 

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, they say it is an unfortunate opportunity to improve their plans.

"Schools are safe places. They are designed to support children, designed to support the growth of young people. Having said that, we are always looking for ways to make our schools safer, and it really depends on partnership with our community," said Albemarle Assistant Superintendent Matt Haas.

In order to prepare, Albemarle County schools use an automated system called Blackboard Connect to inform parents of any emergencies that take place. Recorded phone messages and emails are part of that system. Administrators say they are working to develop a service to send emergency notifications straight to mobile devices.

"What we can do is be proactive and plan and prepare and hope that something like this never happens," said Greene County Superintendent David Jeck.

Haas says it is too early to talk about how they will handle discussing the Connecticut school shooting with students and parents, but they will determine the best response once more details unfold.

The crisis management plans are available in the front office of every school for parents to review.

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