Jefferson County

C.O. schools assess post-Sandy Hook safety

One year after tragedy, improvements made

C. Oregon schools boost safety

REDMOND, Ore. - It has been a year since the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre. It has also been a year since Central Oregon school officials sat down to discuss new safety precautions, in light of the tragedy.

One year later, public outcry has died down, but schools have been busy at work making good on their promises.  

"Beginning with a sight assessment, we went to every school," Redmond schools Superintendent Michael McIntosh said Wednesday.

They looked at everything from windows, to locks on doors, to fences around the school perimeter. A large concern at most schools were points of entry.

"For example, at many of our elementary schools, we had perimeter fencing that was incomplete," McIntosh said. "We had gaps and gates and things."

Closing off those areas were a top priority. A teacher at Lynch Elementary told us they have done a good job with fences.

Jefferson County schools took it a step further. They are taking a safety measure that requires teachers to use access cards. They will swipe in and out of the building on a daily basis.

Simon White, principal at Jefferson County Middle School, told us that hopefully the system will be in place by the time the kids return from Christmas break.  

"Yeah, this is a big step, because this is something our community members voted for in the bond," White said. "So this is a bond-funded measure."

Madras High School already has its swipe pad installed, and the middle school had its installed this week. While it's a big step, Jefferson County Middle School wants to do more.

"The card-lock system is step one, but doing a reconfiguration of how the flow of traffic comes into our school is step two," White said.

The middle school actually wants to build a wall. That way, every adult entering the school must walk though the front office first. It is a step officials believe would make things even safer.

"Again, sometimes it takes a tragedy to ignite conversations and procedures around safety," McIntosh said.

While it was a tragedy, educators in Central Oregon are using the Sandy Hook incident to make sure our children are safer here.

"We're being proactive," White said. "Safety is our No. 1 concern for students, and education follows right after."

We weren't able to get hold of Bend-La Pine Schools Wednesday, but the School Safety Alliance said they have made adjustments to access points as well.

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