GREENSBORO, N.C. — Greensboro Police and Guilford County Schools held a joint news conference Friday to address local school safety.
The information came in response to Connecticut’s deadly shooting inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, during which at least 26 people, including 20 children, were killed.
School Resource Officer Cpl. D.W. Johnson said police officers checked in on 40 Elementary schools in Guilford county Friday, walking the hallways and talking to principals to assure them everything was okay.
He says though they could never promise a tragedy like this would never happen in Guilford County, “We are doing everything we can to make sure Guilford County schools are safe every day.”
Principals across the county are being asked to review emergency policies and procedures with faculty and students.
GCS Chief of Staff Nora Carr said every school in the district has two lock down drills each year.
In Friday’s news conference, she said principals have been instructed to get this semester’s lockdown drill done before winter break if they haven’t already had one.
“As a mom, grandmother and educator, my advice is everyone, go home and hug your children today and tell them you love them. And we want to assure our families that Guilford County Schools are safe,” promised Carr.
Cpl. Johnson described how lockdown drills are performed.
“We simulate that there’s an incident that’s occurred on campus and then we ensure that the kids, teachers ensure the kids, are inside their rooms, lights are off, the doors closed and secured as best as possible,” he explained.
School Resource Officers work at Middle and Elementary schools throughout the county. Carr said it would be up to the Administration and Board of Education in Guilford whether they’d want to consider employing SRO’s at Elementary Schools in light of the shooting at Sandy Hook.
Some Greensboro parents admitted their concerns about school safety.
“This is exactly why I homeschool my kids,” insisted Emilee Newton.
“People might call us overbearing, but I know where my two daughters are at all times. It’s sad but that’s something you have to consider these days.”
Melissa Reynolds has a 16-year-old in Guilford County Schools and a two-year-old who will start kindergarten in a couple of years.
“It’s a mother’s worst nightmare,” admitted Reynolds. “I just can’t imagine getting that phone call, and being the parent who’s sitting at home wondering if that’s my kid.”
Guilford County father of two Dale Jones says he isn’t sure any amount of school security would stop a person who’s determined to open fire on children.
“I don’t believe there’s really anything you can do to prevent someone who’s just absolutely set out to do mean things,” he added.
Carr worked as a media liaison after the Columbine shootings in 1999. She said it’s hard to describe the stunned atmosphere that surrounded the community after that tragedy.
Carr continued, insisting it’s not a time for questioning security measures in Connecticut, but rather for offering support to the teachers, students, parents, and emergency workers involved.
“There are parents whose children did not come home from school today. That is a national tragedy,” she said pausing. “That is a national tragedy.”