Central Okanagan  

SD23 taking precautions

The newly elected chair of the Central Okanagan School District says her heart goes out to those affected by events in Newtown, Connecticut earlier today (Friday).

A gunman opened fire inside an elementary school in the small Connecticut town, killing as many as 26 people including 20 children. Another person was killed outside of the school bringing the total to 27 without counting the gunman himself who is also dead.

The school houses children from kindergarten to grade four.

"I think it makes everybody pause and think about how things can change in an instant," says Moyra Baxter.

"When something like this happens in a school with such small children it's heartbreaking to hear this news. We can't even imagine what those families and what those communities are going through."

Baxter says people can't pretend things like this don't go on.

"We have to be aware that there is always the possibility it can happen," says Baxter.

"That's why we do try, on a regular basis, to assess our schools for any situation we might find ourselves in."

She says the district has been doing a thorough assessment of schools for the last three years.

"A school that has hidden spots where somebody might hide, we look at those. We look at which door people use and we want to make sure we can see that entrance from the office."

In some cases, Baxter says offices have been relocated to give a better view of the main entrance while, in other cases, video surveillance cameras have been set up to provide that visibility.

Windows on classroom doors have been fitted with coverings that can would prevent people from looking in during an emergency situation and most schools have roll down blinds that can come down quickly as well.

"I think every time something like this happens it gives us time to step back and say are the protocols we have in place the right ones, do we need any more, do we need to change anything?"

"Like every school district we try to put things in place to protect our students and our staff. We have a lot of students we are responsible for and we have a huge group of employees as well."

While several initiatives have been put in place, Baxter says the district is realistic that, regardless of what you put in place there are no guarantees that nothing will ever happen.

"If that person is determined to do something, that will happen."

Click here to view the story from the South Okanagan.

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