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Sandy Hook shooting prompts safety concerns

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Two school districts are addressing safety concerns this week.

After a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut claimed 26 lives on Friday, both Sackets Harbor Central and Indian River Central sent letters to parents to help ease their fears.

Indian River’s letter addresses rumors that a violent act was going to occur at the high school this Friday. Superintendent James Kettrick said those who investigated the rumor Thursday — administration, the guidance department, high school staff and the school resource officer — found no credible validation for it.

“Unfortunately, given the events in Connecticut on Friday, Dec. 14, the rumors took on a life of their own and began circulating on various forms of social media,” Mr. Kettrick said in a letter released on the district website Wednesday. “By Monday, Dec. 17, more parents and students contacted the school with concerns.”

Those concerns were again investigated, according to the letter.

“There are plans in place to be secure on Friday,” Mr. Kettrick said. “The state police have been graciously making themselves highly visible at many districts, including our own, this week.”

No rumors prompted Sackets Harbor to announce they were keeping its front doors locked, however.

On Monday, students were instructed to use the main entrance on the side of the school rather than the entrance in the front of the building. Those doors will remain locked from now on.

“I guess it would be in reaction to the Connecticut tragedy,” said Superintendent Frederick E. Hall Jr. “We opted to funnel everyone through the side of the building.”

Mr. Hall discussed the new procedure at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

All visitors still must press a buzzer at the main entrance to be allowed into the building and sign in at the main office. They will be allowed in only after stating the purpose of their visit.

“For large schoolwide activities which occur during the school day, visitors will now need to sign in upon arrival,” according to a letter sent to parents Monday. “We hope to expedite the process as much as possible but appreciate your patience as we adjust our procedures.”

According to the letter, the district plans to have another lock down drill this year. The last drill was in October.

“As you know, there is no foolproof method to prevent incidents like the one that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary, but we believe our level of readiness is comprehensive,” the letter states.

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