Insuring School Safety

"Your children are not safe anywhere, anytime."

That one statement, read Tuesday by Montgomery County, Maryland Police Chief Charles Moose, was on a note left at one of the crime scenes.

It has brought into focus concerns about children not only in, but going to schools in the District of Columbia area.

In Wood County, there's a crisis management plan dealing with everything from chemical emergencies to school shootings, similar to those of the late 1990's.

"We just need to be in a planning mode," says Lawrence Hasbargen, Wood County Schools' assistant superintendent for school services, "to make sure that if something of this nature comes about, we'll move in a direction that creates the safest environment possible for our students."

The method of putting that plan into effect isn't much different that what some D.C.-area schools have used recently: a lockdown.

According to Jefferson Elementary School Principal Ed Alfred, "The simplest thing we can do is to close our facilities to the outside and keep our children in a safe environment. It is also the least disruptive thing to do."

School administrators have said local response to the shootings has basically been that it can't happen here. They don't agree.

"I think it's always a possibility in Parkersburg and in most places around the country," says Hasbargen. "If someone decides they want to do something of that nature, I'm sure they'd find a way to carry it out."

Administrators themselves admit their plan might not be the answer to every situation. But they believe planning and training are the keys to react to any emergency.

News reports say schools in the Maryland area Wednesday had only slightly lower than normal attendance, after Tuesday's disclosure of the note linked to the shooter.


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