Extra police presence will continue at all Elmhurst schools, both public and private, throughout the week as students approach a much anticipated holiday break.
Police Chief Michael Ruth made the decision to put officers at all schools in response to the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 young children and six adults dead.
He said the response patrol officers have received from the public has been "overwhelmingly positive." Parents are "grateful to our officers."
"Our police officers understand the feeling of comfort and reassurance that their presence means to our residents," Ruth said.
On Monday, Chief Ruth, himself, was seen walking near Immaculate Conception School just before 3 p.m., and other officers were spotted at and around schools throughout the city on foot patrol. Officers also greeted students as they arrived Monday morning and will continue to do so until school lets out for the holidays Friday afternoon.
Special Precautions at York
With York High School students getting ready for finals this week, Assistant Principal Rob Wagner announced new safety precautions that may require parents to pick up and drop off their children at a different location than they normally do.
"While there is no plan that can totally prevent a random act of violence, York High School has a school safety plan that is regularly reviewed by law enforcement authorities, administrators and teachers," he told students during morning announcements on Monday. "In the fall we practiced this plan by running an intruder drill. In light of the recent tragedy, our school safety plan will be reviewed and updated as needed. We will practice our intruder drill again once the plan has been updated."
As an additional precaution this week, certain doors will be locked down and students will not be able to exit from most doors in the school.
Also, students were told if they open or prop a door for anyone for any reason, they will receive a "disciplinary consequence."
"We cannot stress enough the importance of this rule," he said.
Administrators also are reviewing the number of hours the building is open and coming up with a plan to "condense access points" before school, during school and after school hours.
"Once our security team has reviewed this plan, it will be communicated to staff, students and parents," he said.
Students also will be supervised and accounted for in the event of an emergency.
"For this week and while we review our security plan, we ask that students report to a supervised area during free or lunch periods such as the Learning Commons, the Math Lab or the Student Commons (cafeteria)," Wagner said. "We understand that this is a change for some of you, but it is important that we account for and supervise every student. To clarify, students may not eat lunch in hallways or in unsupervised areas."
He also asked students to wear the official colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School—green and white—all week to show support for the victims in Newtown, and he let them know counselors and social workers are available in the student services office.
"I want you all to know that you are safe at York and that the security of our building and, consequently, your personal well-being are my top priority," Wagner said.
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