Monday was the first day of classes across the country since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. For Albemarle County, the day started with talks about safety.
After the shooting, every school system in Virginia will be reviewing their crisis plans.
"Teachers kept to the routine of what we do on a daily basis, keeping instruction the focus of what we do day in and day out, building relationships with kids," said Albemarle High School Principal Jay Thomas.
On Monday, Thomas met with teachers and staff to discuss Friday's shooting and review crisis response plans. "It gives us also a chance to double check our own procedures which is always good and healthy to be able to do," said Thomas.
Liaisons from Albemarle County Central Office visited each school, and police are stepping up patrols, but staying outside to avoid stirring up feelings of fear or alarm.
"This is always on the front burner for us. School safety doesn't take a back seat," said Assistant Superintendent of Albemarle Public Schools Matt Haas.
Albemarle is reviewing its countywide crisis response. The governor is ordering every school system to complete a full review of required safety audits. "To look at all the things they've previously put in those audits that they need to do better," said Governor Bob McDonnell.
"I think schools are the safest when everybody is vigilant, when everyone is aware of what, perhaps, warning signs are that an incident might happen," said Haas.
Albemarle County is encouraging parents, students, and educators to support each other in coping with the Connecticut tragedy.
"This puts a lot of strain on our staff. They can get fatigued when they're addressing the needs of others," said Haas.
Thomas says the community is sharing its appreciation for the job these educators continue to do. "Most of the calls we've received have been supportive saying "Thank you so much, we know our kids are safe in your school," said Thomas.
Albemarle is partnering with Charlottesville City Schools to put together a community forum in early January to discuss school safety and security.
Albemarle Police Department Press Release
In the wake of the school tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the Albemarle County Police Department is working with Albemarle County Schools to ensure students are as safe as possible in our community.
To provide additional protection and relieve fears, the Albemarle County Police Department assigned officers to do extra patrols near school zones.
School Resource Officers are assigned to the four high schools in Albemarle County. The officers are there to promote safety within the school buildings. They are also able to provide guidance, counseling and serve as role models for the students. The SROs play a vital role in monitoring the activities of our youth and watch for any potential problems with students, drugs, gangs or any other dangerous behavior.
Many of our officers and SROs have received training in active shooter scenarios. In a situation of that magnitude, we would work with all of our regional resources like the Charlottesville Police Department, University of Virginia Police, the Albemarle County Sheriff's Department and State Police. As a Department, we want to keep up with best practices in public safety training to better protect our citizens. The Police Firearms Facility is one small step toward making your police and sheriff departments better prepared to handle deadly encounters and active shooter incidents like experienced last week in Connecticut.
As a Department, we work to protect and serve the community. We will continue to train and prepare for any potential threat to our community. We will work with all the available resources to ensure that our students and communities are as safe as possible.
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