Nerves High As Tri-State Area Students Return To Class In Wake Of Newtown School Massacre
BERGENFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Parents across the Tri-State area expressed concern and fear Monday morning as their children returned to class in the wake of the Connecticut school massacre.
Christine and Ron Baron of Bergenfield, N.J. rarely, if ever, both take their children to school, but they did on Monday.
“It was very hard, I didn’t want to take them but you have to kind of move on a little,” Christine Baron told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.
“You worry because you go to work and you have to think of, ‘Is your kid safe?'” parent Susan Jennings said.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports
Former secret service agent and current private security consultant Joe Canney said lone assassins like Adam Lanza are law enforcement’s biggest concern.
“Someone who doesn’t tell anybody what they’re going to do and not really clear what their methodology or their rationale for doing it is,” Canney told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “If the right kind of people had been able to talk to Adam Lanza, they could have reached a reasonable conclusion.”
Canney admits it’s hard to keep a determined gunman out of a school.
WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports
“What we’re trying to do is minimize and mitigate the threat that’s out there by acknowledging that it could happen, understanding what it could look like and knowing what we’re going to do in the even that something takes place,” he told Diamond. “It’s going to need a bit of good fortune that a person like Adam Lanza ends up on somebody else’s radar.”
However, Canney pointed out that these types of massacres are extremely rare.
“You can rest assured your school is as safe as it can be. If the children are aware of what to do, if the administration has considered the types of threats that could across and if there is a relationship between those first responders that will come and the school itself,” Canney said.
Canney said there are often red flags before a shooting massacre like the one in Newtown and added that there needs to be more information sharing between law enforcement and mental health professionals.
Teachers and parents across the country spent the weekend wrestling with how best to quell children’s fears about returning to school.
Bergenfield Superintendent Dr. Michael Kuchar said crisis counselors are on hand in every school in the district to address any concerns parents and their children may have.
“We want you back in school and they’re doing everything possible to make it safe,” Kuchar said. “If you’re really having trouble coming back to school bring your child in, talk with us.”
“It’s natural to be nervous hearing the news, but you need to go to school and school is a safe place,” Kuchar added.
There was also the heartbreaking task of answering tough questions about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“We talked to our son together and just reassured him that everything was okay,” Ron Baron said.
“We have not discussed it with our son,” parent Paul Frean told CBS 2’s Alex Denis outside P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village. “He’s too young. It’s very sad and we hope he doesn’t hear about it.”
“Our approach has been bad people do bad things,” parent Matt Widman said. “There aren’t always answers and you have to appreciate life.”
Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said his agency was sending a letter to school superintendents across the state Sunday evening, providing a list of written prompts for classroom teachers to help them address the shooting in Newtown with their students.
“In many instances, teachers will want to discuss the events because they are so recent and so significant, but they won’t necessarily know how to go about it,” he said.
In an effort to ensure their students’ safety and calm parents’ nerves, school districts across the United States have asked police departments to increase patrols and have sent messages to parents outlining safety plans that they assured them are regularly reviewed and rehearsed.
Schools in Ridgefield, Conn., were locked down after what police there called a “suspicious incident.”
In North Salem, N.Y., a community in Westchester County which is 22 miles away from Newtown, a police officer stationed outside their elementary school Monday.
WCBS 880’s John Metaxas reports
“There are no safe distances,” said Bruce Buckles, a town councilman and substitute French teacher. “This guy was obviously unhinged and there’s nothing you can do to protect yourself from people like that other than take whatever precautions you can.”
“I think that whatever we can do to secure our schools is an effort well undertaken,” Buckles added.
Mahopac and Eastchester are among the other New York districts to ask for more police presence at the schools.
New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott released a statement saying that he’s been in constant communication with the NYPD and their local school safety division.
Many schools planned to hold a moment of silence Monday and fly flags at half-staff to honor the lives of the 26 children and adults that were killed at the school in Friday’s shooting.
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(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)