The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Area schools vigilant after Connecticut massacre
BY LINDLEY ESTES
Area school administrators warned principals to be vigilant Friday after learning of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut that left 28 dead, including 20 students, seven adults and the attacker.
Two North Stafford schools were locked down briefly Friday while deputies responded to reports of shots fired in the area.
The schools, which share a campus, were Garrisonville Elementary and A.G. Wright Middle on Choptank Road, said Bill Kennedy, spokesman for the Stafford Sheriff’s Office.
Kennedy said reports of shots fired are not uncommon during hunting season. Deputies who responded heard no more shots and found nothing suspicious.
When the lockdown was lifted, schools were dismissed, he said.
“Everyone is a little anxious today,” said Kennedy, after the mass shooting at the Connecticut school earlier in the day.
Stafford County schools have reconfigured entrances at each of its buildings, so that visitors have to enter the main office before gaining access to the rest of the school. “We can control who is coming into the school,” said spokeswoman Valerie Cottongim.
She said that the schools have crisis plans and do yearly emergency drills in conjunction with Stafford fire and rescue officials and the Sheriff’s Office.
Bob Burch, Fredericksburg schools’ director of operations, said the superintendent immediately informed all schools of the news and asked them to take precautions, but not lock down.
Burch said city schools have only one door open during operating hours and that entrance is monitored.
The school system also does a lockdown drill every year in which the doors to classrooms are locked from the inside and children stay away from the windows. The annual drill was done this fall.
Spotsylvania County schools sent out a press release about its commitment to safety in light of the shooting.
The release said that a key element of their safety procedures is their partnership with the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office and the assignment of a school resource officer to support each of the schools. Each officer receives special training.
All schools also have written safety plans and conduct drills annually with the assistance of the Sheriff’s Office.
Culpeper Sheriff Scott Jenkins posted extra deputies at all public schools in the county on Friday. The sheriff order that as a precautionary measure after receiving numerous phone calls from concerned parents after the Connecticut shootings.
Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976