In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left more than two dozen people dead, including 18 children, CBS 2 has learned the school district had just installed a new safety policy designed to prevent situations such as what happened on Friday.
At approximately 9:41 a.m. a gunman opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. Early reports indicated one child and the gunman, who has not been identified yet, were killed, but later the horror of what actually took place started to come to the surface. It was later learned a second person connected to the massacre was taken into custody, but the specifics of who he is and how he was possibly connected to the tragedy were not immediately known.
The district took proactive measures to ensure the safety of students and faculty when it unveiled new safety protocols earlier in the school year, but it is unknown if school officials followed the new guidelines prior to the shooting.
Students were seen being escorted to a nearby firehouse in what was described as a very calm and controlled evacuation, a protocol that had been in place for some time, officials said. Hundreds of students and faculty members were reportedly met by dozens of emergency vehicles. Relieved parents then met their children at the firehouse and took them home, by car and even by foot.
CBS 2 has obtained the letter sent home to parents describing the new safety protocols:
Dear Members of our Sandy Hook Family,
Our district will be implementing a security system in all elementary schools as part of our ongoing efforts to ensure student safety. As usual, exterior doors will be locked during the day. Every visitor will be required to ring the doorbell at the front entrance and the office staff will use a visual monitoring system to allow entry. Visitors will still be required to report directly to the office and sign in. If our office staff does not recognize you, you will be required to show identification with a picture id. Please understand that with nearly 700 students and over 1000 parents representing 500 SHS families, most parents will be asked to show identification.
Doors will be locked at approximately 9:30 a.m. Any student arriving after that time must be walked into the building and signed in at the office. Before that time our regular drop-off procedures will be in place. I encourage all parents to have their children come to school and return home on the bus and to remain in school for the entire school day. The beginning and ending of our school day are also important instructional times and therefore we want all our students to reap the benefits of full participation in our program.
We need your help and cooperation for our system to work effectively. Our office staff is handling multiple tasks. Though they will work diligently to help you into the building as quickly as possible, there may be a short delay until someone can view you on the handset and allow you to come in electronically. There are times during the day when office personnel are on the telephone, addressing student concerns, or in the copy room; there are other times when only one person is in the front office. Please help our staff by identifying yourself and provide your child’s name.
Keep in mind we will be following our district guidelines which may need revision once we test the system.
Please know your involvement continues to be critical to our school’s effectiveness and your child’s success. We continue to encourage and value your presence in our classrooms and are counting on your cooperation with the implementation of this safety initiative.
It is unclear how the shooter, reportedly armed with two semi-automatic handguns, gained access to the school or if he showed identification, or if he had entered prior to the 9:30 a.m. doors-locked mandate. It is also unclear how the shooter gained access to the school halls and classrooms.
Sandy Hook Elementary is one of four elementary schools in Newtown, a town approximately 15 miles east of Danbury, 60 miles northeast of New York City.