YONKERS, N.Y. – Yonkers residents have been calling for changes and officials have been discussing school safety in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.
Gunman Adam Lanza killed 26 people, including 20 children, Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. He then killed himself. Earlier he had killed his mother, bringing the toll to 28.
Monday morning, Yonkers Superintendent of Schools Bernard Pierorazio met with the district’s director of safety and security, executive director of facilities management, chief academic officer and chief administrative officer to discuss and review required safety and security drills, single entry points, buzzer and camera entry systems, and district coordination with the Yonkers Police Department.
Before classes began Monday, school principals held morning meetings with their staffs to discuss how school personnel could best support their students and families. The principals also reviewed security procedures and addressed staff questions regarding building security protocol.
The following is taken from a recorded phone message from Pierorazio to all Yonkers school district families on Sunday.
"As our hearts extend to the Sandy Hook community, I wanted to reach out to our families as you prepare to send your children back to school. Tomorrow morning, students and staff districtwide will share a moment of silence at 9:35 a.m. to honor those lost.
"Please be assured that extra support staff will be deployed to our schools to work alongside our teachers and administrators to attend to any student’s feelings of anxiety or fear and to address children’s questions in a manner appropriate to a student’s age and level of development.
"Available on the district’s home page is a link to resources that provide guidance for families who are addressing children’s questions about this tragedy.
"We are also working closely with the Yonkers Police Department to review our buildings’ security procedures. Please know that our staff members are trained to enact various drills, including lockdown and lockout procedures, with the sole purpose to protect and ensure the safety of your children and our staff in times of crisis.
"Together, let us look to one another for strength and resolve to comprehend Sandy Hook, and let me reassure you that the safety of our students and staff is the district’s No. 1 priority."
Yonkers resident Jean Melora, 75, said she worries for her grandchildren in school.
"It's so beyond sad that I barely know what to say," Melora said. "I also lost my sons, so I know the pain of loosing a child. But these kids were so young, so my heart really goes out to the parents. How could this possibly happen? I worry for all the kids in schools everywhere, because unless there's change, it's only a matter of time before this happens again."