Flags around the state have been lowered to half staff in remembrance of the 27 victims killed during Friday's school shooting in Connecticut -- 20 of them children. After being inundated by images from Friday, it's easy to forget that statistically kids are safest while at school.
"We need to take every step that we can to keep safety paramount in our minds," said Burlington Superintendent Jeanne Collins.
For the state's largest school district that means reviewing its safety plan. Superintendent Collins said decades ago Burlington's schools were not built to keep people out and tragedies like Sandy Hook have the district contemplating changes. "Teachers in a classroom should be able to lock their door from the inside and not have to step out in the hall to lock it. If I had my way, we would be able to lock down a building with the push of a button," Collins said.
By law Vermont schools are required to have a safety plan and it must be practiced once a month. But it's up to the individual districts to write those policies.
"The most important thing is that they involve the public response community. That they don't make plans on their own," said Stephen Earley, who heads the state's School Crisis Planning Team, an organization that helps districts create emergency plans for a variety of situations from haz mat spills and bomb threats, to active shooter scenarios. "If you practice those plans you're preparing your students and staff to be as safe and as far from harm's way as possible," he said.
In an active shooter crisis like Sandy Hook, Vermont teachers are trained to clear hallways, lock doors, turn off lights and hide students. Lockdown drills help everyone prepare and experts say schools that are only doing fire drills are falling short. "You've got to come to the reality of what this is like now -- it's not where it's going to happen, it's when. It can be anywhere," Earley said.
But even the most comprehensive safety measures are not a sure fire solution. A locked down school is not impenetrable. "Buzzer systems can be useful and can also be a sense of false security. It's people who are really needed to make the building safe," Jeanne Collins said.
Dedicated personnel and practiced plans -- in the end -- is the combination experts said will ultimately saves lives.
The crisis team said it's important that parents are included in school safety planning. Experts recommend open communication and that parents should be familiar with the school's policy, emergency alert system and evacuation locations.
Numbers to the HowardCenter to find help for kids showing signs of trouble:
For kids under 18 -- HowardCenter First Call -- 802-488-7777
For young people over 18 -- HowardCenter Mobile Crisis -- 802-488-6400
Friday, May 24 2013 11:30 PM EDT2013-05-25 03:30:10 GMT
A hole in the road closed one of the routes into Canada Friday.State Police say Route 5 in Derby Line is closed near Caswell Avenue because of a hole in the pavement just a couple of feet over the lineMore >>
A hole in the road closed one of the routes into Canada Friday.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:17 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:17:06 GMT
It was a storm that left residents with more damage than they could have ever imagined. "The basement has about 13 inches of water," said Bob Genter of Underhill. And preparing for the aftermath of theMore >>
Flash floods left destruction across the region. And the rain is not over. Heavy downpours left some people trapped in their neighborhoods as emergency crews work to try to clear the roads.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:54:18 GMT
Vermont State Police say the following roads have been closed due to flooding:UNDERHILL: VERMONT ROUTE 15, CILLEYHILL POKER HILL ROAD NORTH UNDERHILL STATION ROAD PAIGE ROAD DAUDLIN ROAD BROWNS TRACE,More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:20 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:20:50 GMT
As the cleanup gets underway from Thursday night's flash flooding, the focus shifts now to the broader impacts of rising rivers from around the region. All the rain so far and more to come is running intoMore >>
All the rain is running into larger streams and rivers that are moving rapidly toward flood stage.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 12:44 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:44:50 GMT
Heavy rains have caused more flooding problems around our region, and the situation could get worse as the rain continues to fall over the holiday weekend. So far, the impact has mainly been seen in roadMore >>
Heavy rains have caused more flooding problems around our region, and the situation could get worse as the rain continues to fall over the holiday weekend.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 9:51 AM EDT2013-05-24 13:51:55 GMT
Over the river and throught the woods isn't just the way to grandma's house, its the way a lot of people are having to travel just to make it to their front door. Dormant brooks and sleepy streams turnedMore >>
Strong rains Thursday flooded roads in Essex.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:25 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:25:14 GMT
A rainy Vermont City Marathon forecast isn't slowing down runners or organizers. "Well, we're going to make some liquid sunshine out of all of this rain. That's the only choice we've got right now," saidMore >>
The countdown is on to this weekend's Vermont City Marathon and final preps are underway. Those finishing touches are coming in the rain, but organizers say the weather isn't slowing things down.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:35 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:35:15 GMT
The bad weather has forced the postponement of the annual Memorial Day parade in Essex. The parade is held annually on the Saturday morning of the holiday weekend. But after all the rain and flooding damageMore >>
The bad weather has forced the postponement of the annual Memorial Day parade in Essex.More >>