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Police Presence Will Continue at Schools All Week; York Has Special Procedures in Place

For finals week at York, students will be supervised at all times and only allowed to exit the school from two doors. Students who open a door for anyone for any reason will face disciplinary action.

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.

Jon December 18, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Bless the officers who are in my neighborhood and at our schools. I saw Chief Ruth at York and Arthur yesterday morning too. This police chief truly leads from the front. Thank you !
Gabe December 18, 2012 at 12:34 PM
The police presence was very reassuring but what about the future? I hope there is a plan to implement a well trained armed police or security detail for each school. Tax payers would be willing to pay a few more dollars a day for this. The police simply cannot get there in time to save a life. Unfortunately in many countries around the world utilize this. Mental health awareness/treatment and modified gun control may help too. This is a sad world we live in but it's reality.
Bunky December 18, 2012 at 12:54 PM
The high school has so many doors but don't have enough hall monitors to cover them all. There should be more cameras in the school and hire someone to watch the goings on our just hire more hall monitors. The school also needs to change its lockdown procedure such that if there is an intruder in the school they need to figure out how to get the kids out of the school...not stay in. That is how more fatalities occur.
Ken T December 18, 2012 at 01:38 PM
This is great and glad police are present this week. However like the other resident, what about the future? I think we all would like to have a stationed officer at all our schools. Wal-Mart has a security guard but our schools don't? Also it is wonderful that York was reviewed but again our elementary schools acesss points need to be reviewed too as all schools have numerous access points. Surveillance cameras should be at every door and monitored when kids are inside the doors. This is a serious problem and honestly the debate and change to gun laws will take years. Putting an officer at every school and surveillance cameras at every door would take a few days to setup. It is all so heartbreaking that we even have to discuss this, but I think our country changed on Friday in a way that will affect us forever. Our hearts are broken but we realize we cannot let this ever happen again. If it means guarding our schools like we do at businesses, then so be it. Nothing is more important than our kids.
David R. December 18, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Great ideas but how do we pay for all of this? Everyone complains about everything in this town, but no one wants to pay for any of the improvements or make cuts to any existing expenditures. Parents complain about the schools, teachers, facilities, athetics, coaches, athletic fees, arts, bus fees, etc. and the teachers are all angry because they don't think they are paid enough, but no one wants to increase taxes or pay increased fees for anything and the state is basically bankrupt. Does everyone think that money just magically appears to pay for everything?
NancyC December 18, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Unfortunately, all the precautions in the world will not prevent this. Surely armed security would diminish the death toll but any person determined to inflict death upon the innocent is going to find a way and place to do it. I would hate to send my young children into an armed fortress everyday, York felt like a prison before the new measures. Stay at home, teach at home or take courses on line together in small family groups. Schools are too darn big anyway- :>)
8675309 December 18, 2012 at 05:26 PM
I guess its good to see a police presence at our schools this week, if it makes some parents feel better. But I guess I'm just too cynical. What does it really matter? After Friday we wont see it anymore. At my child's school you can ring the bell and tell them you are "Mike Smith's" mom and you have something for the office and they will buzz you in. Once you are in the school, the office is past another set of doors. You dont even have to walk past the office if you didnt want to. You could walk to the right and make it all the way around to the classrooms without even passing the office. Unfortunately, both our kids and us as adults are not completely safe anywhere anymore. The mall, the movies, school. You want to give your kids some independence and help them grow up, but it is very scary out there. We cant have the police patrol every person, every venue, every day. And home-schooling? Really? I am tired of hearing people throwing this out there. Its not really feasible. First of all like I mentioned before, you home school them then let your child go to the mall or movies or anywhere and anything can happen to them. Are you going to keep your child a prisoner in your home everyday for the rest of their lives? No. Anything can happen anywhere. And besides that- how many people can stay home every day? Single parents? Parents that need two incomes to survive. Thats not a real solution. But If it gives you a false sense of security, then great.
Bunky December 19, 2012 at 12:36 AM
David, I'm sure there are plenty of parents that would be willing to go through a background check and volunteer their time to help around the schools. I for one would not mind helping out. We just have to suggest it to the school board and a get approval. This would be a great way to come together as a community. I still believe their lockdown protocol needs to change when there is an intruder in the school.
Jay December 19, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Just like this time last year a student made threats but noone,including parents from York, seemed to care. I am glad that student got expelled after saying he envied the Columbine Students.
Bunky December 19, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Jay, I worked there last year and had a child there as well and never heard anything about this. Trust me, if you work there...it trickles down and you find out things.
Jim Court December 21, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Maybe it is time to accept the idea that the concept of schools is primarily about learning, everything else is secondary. With the advent of the internet, education could be achieved much more efficiently with much less cost. In many ways it has become a babysitter for working parents. Yes, there is a place for this but incrementally we should look for ways to increase utilization of other means of education. How much time is wasted in moving to different classrooms, getting to school, transportation, operations of the school, and all the other costs involved? No one wants to accept change even though change can be good. We should at least explore the idea.
8675309 December 21, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Seriously?!? Says the old guy who doesnt have to worry about his children's education in this day and age. Why not thinking logically about how that could never even work?
Jim Court December 21, 2012 at 07:11 PM
If you are talking to me, it is something that would have be analyzed deeply and long term plans developed and then slowed phased in over a period of time and probably be a hybrid system that would not include younger students. Perhaps this really more appropriate for colleges. I am just thinking out loud.
NancyC December 21, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Bunky, Great idea but I doubt that the union contract will allow for "volunteers"-gotta pay pay pay.
Jay December 30, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Bunky it happen and I reported to the patch and they posted it last year. I have the screen shots as proof of what this kid was talking about liking columbine, hitler and had a picture of himself with a shot gun over his shoulder. He was a freshman and was expelled after a 2nd event...york does a good job of sweeping stuff under the rug.
Jay December 30, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Maybe you dont speak with the right people on the inside at york Bunky. http://elmhurst.patch.com/articles/new-illinois-law-targets-cyber-bullying-a20ac62f
Bunky December 31, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Thanks for the update. I had no idea. Very scary.
Bunky December 31, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Jay...Read my comment on that article. Also, no one at the school could speak about such instances for me to have heard about that due to privacy laws.
Jay January 01, 2013 at 01:36 AM
Very true. Thats awful for your daughter to have that happen to her, very uncalled for. Hope things are better there I transferred my son out to a new district.
Bunky January 01, 2013 at 03:25 PM
All is good now, thx. We transferred our youngest out of the district as well. Very sad to pay what we pay in taxes and not be happy with the schools. Happy New Year!

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