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Schools Across Nation Step Up Or Assess Security After Newtown Killings

Friday afternoon: As a bus took some students home in Newtown, Conn., the flag was already at half-staff to honor the first-graders and school staff killed that morning.
Shannon Stapleton
Reuters /Landov
Friday afternoon: As a bus took some students home in Newtown, Conn., the flag was already at half-staff to honor the first-graders and school staff killed that morning.

Schools across the nation are adding security or assessing their safety procedures after the shooting deaths of 20 first-graders and six teachers or administrators at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., on Friday.

In neighboring Massachusetts, "officials in Medford, Natick and the city of Boston said they would step up security immediately," the Boston Globe writes. The steps include locking doors once students are in the building for the day and upgrading electronic entry systems.

"In Tucson, Ariz., where a gunman in January 2011 killed six and wounded 12 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the largest school district in the state [Tucson Unified School District] increased security after Friday's shooting," The Associated Press reports.

The wire service adds that "in the Chicago Public Schools, the nation's third-largest school district, officials said they would reiterate their existing safety and emergency-management plans to keep more than 400,000 students safe, and deploy police or counselors to schools as needed."

From Kentucky, WKYT-TV reports that "officials with Fayette County Schools [say] they have school law enforcement officers that will patrol schools this week."

In St. Louis, KSDK-TV says "police officers are planning on being more present at schools Monday morning."

Northern Virginia's Fairfax County school system announced that "police patrols will be increased throughout the school day from the opening of schools to dismissal."

Alabama's Jefferson and Tuscaloosa counties plan to have sheriff's deputies "and other resources" at schools, reports CBS42.

Police in Tulsa, Okla., said today that the department is "stepping up its presence around schools," the Tulsa World writes.

Schools in Southern California's "Inland Empire" east of Los Angeles increased security on Friday, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin says. This week, many started their winter holidays.

As the AP adds, all the added security can't alleviate all the fears:

"For them, you need to pretend that you're OK," said Jessica Kornfeld, the mother of 10-year-old twins in Pinecrest, Fla., a suburb of Miami. "But it's scary."

And heightened tensions can make for disruptions. In Upper Dublin, Pa., today, the high school was briefly locked down after a security guard mistook a student's umbrella for a gun, the AP says. Schools were also locked down briefly in Ridgefield, Conn., because of a report that a suspicious person had been seen near a train station.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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