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Gering schools to implement lockout status
January 10, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Elizabeth Gross/Gering Citizen Gering Junior High School students enter the school building on Tuesday morning. Superintendent Don Hague announced this week that Gering Schools will implement a lockout status for all school buildings as a security precaution.

In the aftermath of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., increased increase security has been on the minds of most school districts across the nation.

After a meeting last week, Gering school administrators decided to implement lockout status for all school buildings. This is where all exterior doors are locked during the school day. Only one door is accessible to the public, who must be buzzed in by building staff.

According to Gering School Superintendent Don Hague, the district has set a target date of Feb. 1 to have buzzers at all buildings where staff can release the door lock. A closed circuit camera will be installed at buildings without line of sight of the front door.

“It’s an inconvenience, but it’s also peace of mind,” Hague said. “A lot of people are concerned about the safety and security of their children.”

Hague said they weren’t at the point where armed police or security guards would be placed in the buildings. “First, that would be very expensive. And I’m not sure it would be the deterrent we need. I sure hope it hasn’t come to that.”

Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown was a secure building, but the shooter shot his way in.

“Regardless of the measures you put in place, you can’t be 100 percent sure someone isn’t going to get in your building,” Hague said. “You only hope you can keep the damage to a minimum.”

Hague added it’s a challenge to have all exterior doors locked when students are often outside for recess, learning opportunities and sports. However, they plan to purchase two-way radios for building administrators to remain in contact with the police department.

The district will also be establishing a presence on Facebook and Twitter. While the pages won’t “follow” anyone, parents can access the sites for the latest information about the schools. Links to the new pages will be posted on the district website.

“Misinformation gets out so quickly in social media it’s difficult to stay ahead of it,” Hague said. “Every time there’s an incident, almost everyone is aware of it. And they don’t always have all the facts. We want to control that communication as much as we can to make sure we get facts out.”

Hague emphasized this is a community effort. “We need parents to be involved,” he said. “Talk with your kids about safety and appropriate behavior.”
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