Intruder drills, locked doors, and crisis plans are nothing new at many public middle and high schools. After of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14 in Newtown, Ct., such practices are being picked up more aggressively at a greater array of elementary schools, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. At all grade levels, districts are making changes that appear poised to become the new normal for school security, from limiting the number of entrances and exits used at the beginning and end of the day, to changing foot traffic patterns, to installing emergency call buttons in offices that instantly connect to local responders.
While school shootings often prompt some ripple of ramped-up security, Sandy Hook has resulted in a particularly widespread response because of the age of the children lost, coupled with the fact that it happened in an elementary building. Many shootings at educational facilities in the past have been at high schools or middle schools. “If it needs to be like a prison to keep our kids safe, then I say let’s go for it,” said parent James Nielson. “I’ll pay the extra tax today. I just want to make sure that at the end of the day they come home safe and alive.” Craig Jefson, superintendent of Arrowhead Union High School District, said it’s not that easy. A shooting could happen anywhere. It’s a difficult conversation to have with anxious parents.