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How Safe Are Westlake Schools?

Westlake City Schools responds to Friday's tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut

Friday's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., brought sadness and concern to parents, teachers and administrators in Westlake City Schools.

"It's very sobering," superintendent Dan Keenan said Friday night. "It's a reminder that parents entrust us with their kids, and what an awesome responsibility that is."

The district sent out an email to parents Friday afternoon about the shootings.

Part of the message read: "Our hearts go out to the families and community of Newtown. During this time it is important to communicate that the Westlake City School District understands that all communities need to do their best to be prepared for crisis situations.  We also wanted to send to you a reminder that our district has a crisis plan in place to respond to emergency situations. We work very closely with Westlake Police and Fire Departments to not only review our plans annually, but to make adjustments and practice those plans."

Crisis planning is critical to being prepared for something that, as Friday showed, can happen anywhere at any time, Keenan said.

"We have to be ready to respond," he said.

Part of that planning is that each school has lockdown drills where Westlake Police participate and later review.

Officers are also regularly in schools, and review security camera placements.

The district is also refining its communications program, using auto-call, email and text to get the word out to parents in urgent situations.

The email also had a message for students: "We want to remind our students that the most effective way to prevent violence, threats and bullying is to turn to a trusted adult.  If a parent or child is made aware of a threat or concern that could impact the safety of others, we ask that they please report that information to the school principal or utilize the district's anonymous School Safety Line at 440-250-1199."

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