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Schools beef up security details

The decisions to provide a higher police profile on White Hall School District campuses this week were wise moves by district and law enforcement officials in the wake of a shooting massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Building principals were asked to have counselors and faculty alerted for any signs of anxiety among students. The higher profile will help ease the concerns the fears of parents who may feel uneasy about sending their children to school after a weekend of saturation news reports of the Newtown shootings, which claimed 26 lives, including include 20 children ages 6 and 7.

Districts across the country asked local law enforcement to increase patrols this week. “This is not in response to any threat at White Hall or Redfield schools, but a joint police and school effort to confirm safety and security around the schools and to help ease the high levels of anxiety,” White Hall Superintendent Dr. Larry Smith said Sunday.

In addition to students’ physical safety, administrators voiced concerns about the psychological toll of the Connecticut shootings, Smith noted.

White Hall district students will be released early Thursday and Friday afternoons for Christmas break following semester tests.

All too often the refrain that “it can’t happen here” was repeated in schools where it did happen:

In 1997 it happened in Pearl, Miss., with two students slain and seven wounded, and three students killed and five more wounded at a high school in West Paducah, Ky.; in 1998, two students ages 11 and 13, shot and killed four students and a teacher and wounded nine students and a teacher at a middle school near Jonesboro; and in 1999 two students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killed 12 classmates and a teacher and wounded 26 others.

Precautions that have been implemented here are wise moves.