Small town's school officials say knowing neighbors keeps kids safe
By Kristen Johnson, Multimedia Journalist/ Weekend Anchor - bio | email
HINTON, Iowa (KTIV) -
The mass shooting at the Newtown, Connecticut Elementary School, Friday has everyschool taking a second look at their own policies.
Many Siouxland schools are in small, rural communities. Big or small, many schools are using technology, like cameras and monitors.
However, in Hinton, Iowa, where just 300 students fill the halls of the elementary school, officials say it's that old adage of knowing your neighbors that goes a long way.
As news of the mass shooting spread through the halls of Hinton's Elementary School, teachers and administrators reacted in the same way that many around the country did.
"It's very disheartening for us in education," said Superintendent Peter Stuerman.
Besides expressing heartfelt sorrow, they're also showing concern for their own students.
"We always take as many precautions as we can," Stuerman said.
Hinton Elementary is a new school with modern security.
The elementary school is locked down, which means I have to be buzzed in, and teachers have to use their key fobs for access to the building.
"We're a locked down facility. The only way to enter is through the office," said Elementary School Principal Jane Krehbiel.
Visitors can't get through the interior set of double doors without stopping to sign in. School officials think the size of their town and their school provides an extra level of security.
"We tend to know everyone. We know the parents very well. I know the grandmas and the grandpas that come to pick up their children," Krehbiel said.
"The police station's only a block away from here," Stuerman.
Though incidents like the one in Connecticut may not change policy, it's served as a reminder to follow through with what's already on the books.
"We always tell our teachers if you don't recognize someone in the building, if they don't have a visitor badge, to make sure that you're reporting those types of things," Krehbiel explained.
"You never know what's going to happen," added Krehbiel.
That's why they're not taking their small town safety for granted.
Insulated inside their classrooms, most students didn't learn about the shooting until they came home Friday afternoon.
The district's giving parents the first opportunity to address the tragedy, but they're also preparing their teachers for the possibility that they'll be peppered with questions from students on Monday.
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