School district looks at security
The Dec. 15 Newtown, Conn., shooting which tragically took the lives of 20 children and six adults devastated the nation. The deadly shooting left many Americans with a myriad of questions concerning the safety of their schools, students, teachers and staff.
The Catasauqua Area School District has in place a crisis response plan in the event the district is confronted with an emergency situation.
School district Superintendent Robert Spengler told The Press the plan was developed in collaboration with the Pennsylvania State Police, the Catasauqua Borough Police Department, Lehigh County Emergency Management and the Pennsylvania Safe Schools office.
The plan is reviewed as a component of the regular Pennsylvania auditor general's districtwide audit, he said.
"While the plan is consistent districtwide, there are components, like evacuation routes and locations, that are specific to each school building," Spengler said. "This plan is not a public plan due to the sensitive and confidential nature of building schematics, emergency student movement plans and evacuation locations."
Spengler said security drills are performed annually throughout the school district and at times, larger simulations are performed. For instance, a recent Northampton County Emergency Management drill was performed at Catasauqua High School, involving a simulated emergency situation.
The school district conducted building drills shortly after the Newtown tragedy and anticipates conducting additional drills in January, Spengler said.
Such drills will reinforce procedures and evaluate current plans.
Spengler also indicated the school district expects to look at or revamp current security procedures in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings.
"As a result of the recent drills, our staff will identify concerns in light of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy," he said. "We plan on analyzing these concerns, along with best practice, and input from state and local authorities who are trained in this type of endeavor."
"The tragedy in Connecticut has impacted all of us," Spengler said. "Our hearts go out to each and everyone in the community of Newtown. We strive to make our school facilities safer havens for our most precious community resource, our children and students."
Local residents can do their part to help keep the school safe as well.
"As a community, it is important for anyone to report suspicious activity immediately to school or law enforcement authorities," Spengler said.