Sioux City's schools want parents to know student safety is the - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Sioux City's schools want parents to know student safety is the top priority

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

As you can imagine, concerned parents called the Sioux City Community schools following the school shooting in Connecticut, Friday morning.

Dr. Paul Gausman was busy fielding phone calls from concerned parents Friday morning. "We want to re-assure our parents that student safety is our highest priority," said Gausman.

Across town, Bishop Heelan's interim president was reassuring parents, too. "A couple of phone calls, a couple of emails from parents, just asking some general questions," said Ryan.

Gausman says security starts outside at each Sioux City school, before anyone is even allowed to enter. "One of the most visible items when you come to our schools is our doors are all locked and our schools are not just open for anyone to wander in at any time," said Gausman.

That assures a purpose for each visitor. Another safety measure? Emergency texts or phone calls sent to parents. It's a way to get the word out instantly, if needed. "We can send out about 15,000 phone calls in a matter of minutes," said Gausman.

School officials use a fob to get in, and some have limits on when they can enter. It's the same for many private schools. "First line of security is a secure building, having the doors locked," said Ryan.

Gausman says training teachers for emergency situations is another way to be proactive. "This year's mock disaster drill is based on a shooter in a building," said Gausman.

Officials use similar methods for breaking the news to the kids. "You try to keep things as normal as possible and follow through with normal procedures," said Ryan. "This one is so far removed, in terms of mileage, that we don't expect to need grief counselors in the buildings or anything like that," said Gausman. "The youngest students need fewer details," said Gausman.

Ryan agrees, and says administrators need to be on their guard... just in case. "That's also a time where you utilize your procedures. Each classroom is going to be secured, so that students aren't out walking in the halls," said Ryan.

Administrators say teachers can learn from the tragedy, even though it happened far away. "Glean a few items that we can work into our preventative measures, our crisis plan, our disaster drills," said Gausman. The best response is for the teachers to monitor the students and see how they're reacting and then react appropriately," said Ryan.

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