Area schools address security concerns following tragedy - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Area schools address security concerns following tragedy in Connecticut


Chippewa Valley (WQOW) - Alarm clocks sounded, buses arrived on schedule and kids poured into classrooms, but schools looked different this morning.

Doors that were once open are now tightly locked, and plans that would be put into action if the unthinkable were to happen are being reviewed. 

The bump in security comes after a man shot and killed 20 young children and 6 adults last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Monday we visited two local districts to find out what's being done to keep kids safe.

"We're pretty confident in our plans, our doors are locked all the time, and the main doors are open just briefly in the morning and at the end of the day when students are coming in and out," said Altoona Superintendent Dr. Connie Biedron.

Schools in the Chippewa Valley are reacting in different ways following the tragedy in Connecticut. In Altoona, going into lock down is something the school has had to practice already this fall.

"We have a crisis response plan, and actually in October we had a lock down here. There was a possible shooter in the area if you remember, so we did just recently practice, although we didn't know it. We had to go into lock down then," Biedron said.

The Eau Claire School District is stepping up security. All visitors will need to be buzzed in, or have their I. D. checked by school personnel before gaining entry to any building.

"In some of our schools, past practice had been that the community and the public were able to access our schools independently and then walk to the office and sign in. We have simply informed our administration to lock the front door, and to monitor it with personnel who would direct community members to the office to check in. That's in place today and will be for the future," said Tim Leibham, Assistant Superintendent for the Eau Claire Area School District.

The school says they've already been receiving help from the students themselves.

"Students understand school safety. Students of all age levels and grade levels want their school to be safe. And we've seen an increase in students who will also report abnormal circumstances or things they've overheard to school personnel so we can investigate those things," Leibham said.

But sometimes it seems to matter little how much security is added.

"There's things that no matter how you plan and how many plans you have in place, there's some things that I guess are unavoidable or inevitable. But we do everything we possibly can to keep kids safe and keep intruders out of the school," Biedron said.

Both school districts said they were sticking to the usual routine for today's classes. However, teachers have been told it is alright to talk to students about what happened at Sandy Hook if asked.

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