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Fairfax Schools Step Up Security After Conn. Shooting

Elementary schools lock all outside doors, police increase patrols after Friday's tragic school shooting.

Fairfax schools are taking extra precautions since the tragic shooting Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn that left 20 students and six adult employees dead. 

Fairfax County Police will increase their patrols across all Fairfax schools this week, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Dale said in a statement.

"This is not in response to any specific threat but rather a police initiative to enhance safety and security around the schools and to help alleviate the understandably high levels of anxiety," Dale said.

Fairfax City elementary school principals Adam Erbrecht (Daniels Run) and Jesse Kraft (Providence) reminded parents Saturday of safety measures the schools already practice to deter shootings and other security events. 

The front entrances at both Daniels Run Elementary School and Providence Elementary School will remain locked during the school day starting Monday. Visitors have to state their intentions to staff through an intercom system before accessing the building.

Before the shooting, both schools regularly locked all outside doors, said Carolyn Dorsey, public information officer for City of Fairfax Schools. Daniels Run also kept the front entrance locked while Providence kept one door unlocked during the school day.

The front security system allows staffers to speak to visitors through an intercom, see them through a one-way camera and allow them access via a buzzer system.

"We know that this may be inconvenient compared to our past practice, and we realize that the office staff can usually see all visitors through the window. But this extra measure should add another layer of security," both principals wrote in emails to parents. "We thank you for your understanding with this."

Lockdown drills occur once a year -- Daniels Run held one Oct. 9; Providence on Nov. 7 -- but both schools are also looking at practicing their annual lockdown drill again.

During a lockdown:

  • Teachers and staff bring students into classrooms and offices, shut and lock the doors, cover the windows and move the students away from entrances.
  • Staff are not allowed to open classroom doors during the lockdown.
  • The drill ends when an administrator or officer unlocks each classroom door.
  • Key staff members have specific duties during lockdowns. You can learn more about this at January's PTA meetings.

These measures, however, may not completely stop a determined shooter. Our brother Patch editor in Newtown, Conn. reports that Adam Lanza, the alleged 20-year-old shooter, broke into the school by firing through a window to get past the school's security system.

Normal safety measures:

  • Outside doors are locked during the school day.
  • Visitors must use the front entrance and report to the main office for identification and permission to remain on school grounds.
  • Fairfax City schools have school resource officers stationed at Lanier Middle School and Fairfax High School during the school day. The elementary schools keep in touch with them and use them as needed.
  • Fairfax High School uses a LobbyGuard registry that checks visitors against national databases. FHS also offers an additional security assistant on staff, 20 exterior cameras.
  • FHS Principal Dave Goldfarb has forwarded a request to the FCPS officials requesting the installation of interior cameras.

Check Patch for more information as it becomes available.

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