The shooting in Newtown, CT. served as reminder to local district officials Friday of why school safety is and always will be one of their biggest priorities.
"We know that parents have a lot of concerns about their child's safety, and we want to assure families that their children are the safest they can be when they are in our buildings," superintendent Mary Marshall said.
Marshall said the district has an emergency plan in place for each classroom and each building that is reviewed and revised annually.
"Though the school shooting in Newtown was an isolated incident, as an educator, the possibility of a similar incident is always in the back of your mind," Marshall said. "Beginning with the shooting at Columbine High School, we've taken a serious look at our emergency preparedness plan every year."
That plan includes conducting lockdown drills two times a year with Washtenaw County Sheriff Sgt. Jeremy Hilobuk , the district's school liaison officer. In addition, each building has video camera surveillance in school hallways, and locking doors. Improvements to security at Bates Elementary School were completed in the summer, with the relocation of the building's front office.
"A few parents have asked questions about the security at Wylie Elementary. Those upgrades are nearly complete and could be ready to launch as early as Monday," Marshall said.
She said the Washtenaw County Sheriff is provided updated floor plans for each building and access for training in order to allow officers to become familiar with the district in the event of an emergency.
Marshall said earlier this year, buildings were put in lockdown three times due to unauthorized target shooting in an apartment building near Cornerstone Elementary School on Baker Road.
"Anytime we have suspicion of a situation, the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office is incredibly responsive," Marshall said. "It's unbelievable how fast they show up when we call. I'm continually impressed with their training and preparation for emergencies."
With television stations reporting around the clock updates on the school shooting in Connecticut, Marshall said its important that parents do not convey a sense of fear with their children.
"Children take their cues about safety from our body language," she said. "We have state-of-the-art safety precautions in place in Dexter. You can never assume something won't happen in your own backyard, but its very appropriate to assure our students that they are safe."
To review a list of approved tips for talking to children about the school shooting, click here.