Local schools evaluate security after Sandy Hook

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 children dead has many parents across the county concerned about school security.

Parent Shannon Knutson is concerned about the ease of entry into her kids' schools, Thunder Mountain Elementary and Central High School.

"You can just walk right into both of my children's schools, and if one office lady isn't watching you can just walk right past the office," Knutson said. "Sight on scene, they wouldn't even know you were there."

Securing exterior doors is a focus for Tim Leon, District 51's Director of Safety, Security and Transportation.

"Ultimately we'd like to get to the point where there is one entry point at every building but that's impossible given the nature of our business," Leon said. "We are vulnerable in certain areas, but we have other procedures that can help with that."

Some of those other procedures include door monitors. Over winter break, district officials and local law enforcement officials will reassess security plans for the schools and perform site surveys to identify any areas of improvement.

At Holy Family Catholic School, all exterior doors remain locked at all times. Visitors must enter through the main door, which is visible to the front office, ring the door bell, and be let in by office staff.

"There is a certain amount of hassle factor, but staff, teachers, parents and students understand it's for their own safety," said Jake Aubert, Holy Family Catholic School principal.

Aubert said he works closely with District 51 officials and meet monthly to discuss lockdown procedures in the event of an intruder.

In the event of a lockdown, an announcement is made over the school's intercom. At that point, all students must get behind a locked door, regardless of what room it is. For students inside a classroom, they must get on the floor and have the lights turned off and stay as far away from the door as possible. The teacher is to barricade the door and defend the classroom.

The tragic turn of events at Sandy Hook resonates with all those in education throughout the nation.

"The tragedy of the event is one thing, but the ripple effect through the entire community and country is almost overwhelming for somebody who's in charge of so many different lives and we have to be very aware of that and at any time something like that can happen," Aubert said.

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