As elementary and high schools across the U.S. are easing their way into the second half of the school year, administrators, students and teachers have to face the realities of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which took place on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.
The tragedy, which occurred in Newtown, Conn., took the lives of 20 students and six adults. It has spurred an increase in security and changes in school policies across the nation.
The Northwestern students who are student teaching this semester have witnessed how the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history has affected their schools.
For student teacher Jennifer Jansen, new policies at her school in Salem, Ore., have already been arranged.
“Teachers have been given information regarding fire drills, lockdowns and emergency procedures,” Jansen said.
Upon her arrival, Jansen was educated about her school’s three-stage lockdown policy. According to Jansen, each stage is code for a different scenario, and teachers have been trained to act accordingly for each stage. The teachers and students know which scenario they are in once the administration announces it on the intercom.
“We actually had a lockdown just the other day,” Jansen said.
For student teacher Logan Smith, changes at her school in Roanoke, Va., are still in the works. At a recent meeting, teachers were informed that plans have been made to install a security camera in the lobby, a visitor bell at the entrance of the school and 30 new classroom doors.
“Teachers are encouraged to have their cellphones on them at all times,” Smith said.
Likewise, student teacher Anna McCleary has seen an increase in security at her school, Bondurant-Farrar Middle School in Bondurant, Iowa.
“Before, many of the doors were unlocked during the day, and visitors could come in any of them,” McCleary said. “Recently, all but one door has been locked, and all visitors must now enter through that door only.”
McCleary said these changes have stirred up gossip among her students.
“There was a rumor among the students that there would be an intruder drill,” McCleary said. “No such drill was scheduled, but this prompted an email for teachers to share with students what should be done in case of an intruder.”
McCleary recalled her initial thoughts concerning the Sandy Hook tragedy.
“My initial reaction was to think how I would respond in a similar situation,” McCleary said. “The story of the teacher that hid her students in a closet and told the gunman that they were in the gym really stood out to me.”
Jansen was at her cousin’s house when she first heard the news.
“My cousin is a high school sign language teacher in Riverside, Calif. and when she read the article, she started bawling,” Jansen said.
Later, McCleary reflected on what, if anything, could have been done.
“We are taught general security policies, but there is no way to really prepare anyone for a situation like what happened at Sandy Hook,” McCleary said. “Our principal said if teachers would ever be required to carry a gun, he would quit his job.”