School systems plan to review safety policies and procedures - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Schools to review safety policies, procedures

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DOUGHERTY COUNTY, GA -

As children killed in the Connecticut school shooting are laid to rest, students around the country head back to school. Many questions still remain unanswered about why and how the gunman was able to wreak so much havoc in a school that was supposed to be secure.

Now school systems across the country, including here in Dougherty County, are planning to revisit their safety policies and procedures.

It was the first day back to school for students across the country, since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. And in Dougherty County, the gloomy weather seemed to fit the mood.

"I think it's in the back of everybody's minds because it's probably one of the most tragic things that we've seen and unfortunately we've seen it more than once in the last few years in our country," said Carol Tharin, Dougherty County school board member.

Many Dougherty County school board members were at a loss of words when asked about the school shooting which left 20 children and six adults dead.

"I'm a Vietnam Veteran, I've had the opportunity to see some horrible things. But can you imagine living in a country where someone would go into a school and kill children?" said Rev. James Bush, the Dougherty County school board chairman.

Now the focus has turned to prevention and reviewing safety plans.

"I can assure you that being on the board, as soon as you find out about that it gives a lot deeper meaning to me about are we taking the proper precautions?  Have we done the things we need to do?" asked Darrel Ealum, Dougherty County school board member.

"We got to do something to protect our children. And these teachers and other educators in these schools. We have to," said Bush. 

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency approves safety plans that are implemented in each school.

On Monday a state associate superintendent sent an e-mail to all school superintendents in the state saying state officials will conduct on-site safety assessments.

While plans are being evaluated, the question remains, was there a way to protect the students and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut?

"I don't know that there's any plan that is 100% full proof. But unfortunately we've been reminded in a very dramatic way that things like this can happen. And I'm very much an advocate of looking at our safety policies and programs immediately to make sure that we're doing everything possible to prevent anything similar to that happening in the Dougherty County school system," said Tharin.

The Dougherty County school board chairman says the board will have personnel look more in depth at their policies, while the aftermath of the shooting continues to resonate with education leaders.

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