Local superintendents respond to tragedy

BLACKFOOT — The horrific event Friday morning at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, where a gunman killed 7 adults and 20 children, shocked the nation and has everyone talking and asking about the safety of the schools in their own communities. Local superintendents say the tragedy has greatly impacted the teachers, students and staff at every school and that student safety is always of top concern.
Bryan Jolley, superintendent of Shelley School District, assured the public that school safety is always on the mind of the district, not just in the wake of a tragedy.
"We do lockdown drills, earthquake drills, fire drills, etc...quite frequently at all grade levels," Jolley said. "You always prepare and hope you never need it."
"Unfortunately, nothing is 100 percent preventable and no plan is perfect. You just hope that when something does happen, what you have prepared for, will minimize the damage," he added.
Jolley said he believes that, these days, students are more apt to come forward and report something that they fear could escalate into a dangerous situation.
"The days of being dubbed 'a snitch' are over," Jolley remarked. "We all have a responsibility to be vigilant and on guard for the safety of others."
Jolley noted that the elementary schools have only one point of entry and are equipped with surveillance cameras.
In a press release on Monday, Blackfoot School District interim superintendent Chad Struhs wrote, " Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to those students, families, staff and community members affected by the recent tragedy."
"As the superintendent and as school staff, parents and a community, we must be aware of safety concerns. Student safety is our highest priority. We will continue to stress the importance of the regular school safety, drills as we conduct monthly fire drills, lockdowns and evacuations in cooperation with local law enforcement, fire and emergency services, to ensure that we are trained."
Struhs said he respects the importance of families sharing information with their children as they feel appropriate and offered the following links to help parents discuss this difficult situation with their children.