20 Aug 2014
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School Safety a Priority in Jefferson After CT Shooting

Schools comfort students and take extra safety measures in week after elementary school tragedy.

School Safety a Priority in Jefferson After CT Shooting

In light of the recent elementary school tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Jefferson schools are taking extra safety precautions throughout the district.

While Superintendent Joeseph Kraemer said ensuring school safety is always a priority and ongoing throughout the year, the district is making sure that in the week after the shooting that  the schools are extra safe.

Kraemer reassured the community with a message on the district website Monday morning, saying the schools were prepared and that they're doing everything in their power to comfort the children.

"Please know that the Jefferson Township Police, Office of Emergency Management, and the School District shall continue to work collaboratively to ensure the safety of our children and community," he wrote in the statement.

Monday night's board of education meeting began with a moment of silence for the victims in Connecticut, and Kraemer reflected on the first full day back in school since the tragedy.

He said school counselors were available for any students who needed assistance, and the staff was prepared as well. He said one thing he would like to improve on in terms of dealing with a crisis is to be more open in communication with the public.

Kraemer said he will meet Thursday with Chief Kevin Craig and his team to discuss what occurred on Friday and how the district can improve to ensure the district's safety.

He said with the currenty safety measures implemented in the district, which are in compliance with the county and state, the schools are required to do at least two safety drills per month. 

The district also reviews the safety manual annually, he said, which the police have a copy of and the staff are trained on.

"We are constantly reviewing this and retraining, and sometimes new models and requirements come out from the state in which we have to comply with, so we prepare as best we can," he said. "It's never just a one shot deal, it's always ongoing."

Kraemer said the district goes beyond the normal requirements in terms of safety measures, and will continue to do so in the light of the recent events. He said even last Wednesday, just two days before the shooting occurred, he was at a training at the Morris County Fire and Police Training Academeny going over what to do during a school crisis, and watched footage of Columbine and other tragic events.

"[We were] Walking through that and going through the training and reminding us why we do all this stuff, and then Friday it's a reality," he said. "It was real unnerving, you never want to take it for granted."

He said this week police will have increased presence throughout the township, and officials will meet to review the current safety plan and see if anything new could be implemented to create an even safer environment.

"We're always revisiting our plan," he said. "Can we do it better, is there a more efficient way or safer way, that's an ongoing dialogue with the school resource officers, the office of emergency management, etc."

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