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School Officials Respond to Connecticut School Tragedy, Outline Safety Procedures

Westhampton Beach Superintendent Mike Radday says it is important for parents to reassure their children that school is a safe place.

In response to Friday's tragedy in which at , according to Newtown Patch, school officials from Westhampton Beach, East Quogue and Hampton Bays expressed condolences and outlined the steps their districts have taken to ensure the safety of all students.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families impacted by the horrific school shootings in Connecticut earlier today. Schools should be places of safety for our children," said Mike Radday, superintendent of the Westhampton Beach School District.

In order to ensure the safety of students, Radday said, the district has in place single entry school visitors, as well as a team of security personnel and other adults that monitor all of the district's buildings and grounds and security cameras.

"We will continue to take prudent and proactive steps to ensure that our schools remain safe places for our students," said Radday, adding that in the wake of the tragedy, parents should assure their children that schools are a safe place.

"The safety and well-being of our students is paramount," said Radday. "And parents should feel comfortable speaking to their teachers and administrators with any concerns they may have."

East Quogue Elementary School Principal Robert Long also urged parents to contact the school with any concerns and said that the district intends to hold a meeting to review all of its procedures in light of this disaster and will also have councilors available next week, if any students need to discuss their fears.

To ensure safety, he said the district does have a number of policies in effect, including requiring that all visitors be "buzzed" into the building. The district also, he said, has a strong working relationship with the police department.

"It is difficult for all of here to grasp how an individual could harm children. It is unfathomable," he said. "Our thoughts are with the families and victims of this unspeakable tragedy."

In Hampton Bays, Superintendent Lars Clemensen, also expressed sorrow: "As a school leader, the absolutely worst thing I can imagine happened today in Connecticut. We mourn the lives lost, those injured and affected, and we remind ourselves of the safety protocols we have in place."

Of those protocols, Clemensen said that the district keeps all of its doors locked with the exception of the front doors, which are manned with security guards.

Adults seeking entrance to the building, said Clemensen must state their purpose and show photo ID.

In addition, Clemensen said the district has regular trainings for students and staff to practice lockdown and lockout procedures, as well as evacuations so that students know what to do in the event of an emergency.

A strong relationship with the Southampton Police Department and other emergency responders including the fire department and ambulance is also vital in the event of an emergency, said Clemsenen.

With that relationship, Clemensen said the district can be better coordinated to respond and keep students and adults safe.

Sgt. Todd Spencer of the Southampton Town Police Department said officers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with schools in their sectors and participate in defensive tactic programs, rotating situations such as vehicle takedowns. This year, he said officers were trained in responding to active shootings.

Do you feel there are enough school safety measures in place in our area? Please leave your thoughts below.

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Marjorie Oxman December 14, 2012 at 08:52 PM
I went to pick up my son who was sick at WHB school yesterday. Although I did have to sign in, I did not have to show any ID. We are searched for weapons before going onto a plane, and into a courtroom, why not schools?

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