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After Newtown: Schools Take Stock Of Security, Reassure Students & Staff

St. Louis County Police were on hand at a pair of Creve Coeur area Parkway elementary schools Monday.

The nation's school children went back to class Monday for the first time since a gunman opened fire at a Newtown, CT elementary school Friday, killing 20 children and 6 school staff members.

Go To Newtown Patch for continuing coverage of the tragedy

For schools with ties to Creve Coeur, the first day back included stepped up safety precautions, and a chance to reassure everyone from students and their parents to faculty members.

KSDK reports that at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, where doors were unlocked during the day on Friday, visitors Monday now need a security card or have to be "buzzed in" to gain entry.

Craig Elementary School Principal Bill Senti said his school's goal was to have "Business as usual."

A St. Louis County Police cruiser was parked out front of the school in the morning, following through on a promise Chief Tim Fitch announced Friday afternoon to provide a presence at elementary schools as a way to ease fears in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.

Senti said other officer stopped by during the day.

"Craig Elementary is still Craig Elementary," Senti said.

Senti said he had received phone calls and emails from concerned parents since the shootings and thought a few more parents than usual brought their children up to the school's front door.

Those parents wanted to know for sure why the police car was out front, and to find out about the school's security plan, Senti said.

At a staff meeting at the end of the day, he said teachers and staff had their own questions, and were walked through "what-if" situations, while being reminded to keep track of their ID badges and cell phones, to check for voicemail.

"We can't prevent everything, but what can control is how we react," Senti said.

One of the ways Chief Fitch is suggesting schools be able to react is for school personnel to be trained and able to carry firearms in the event that a school doesn't have a school resource officer on site.

Craig Elementary shares a school resource officer with Ross Elementary School and Parkway North High School.

Senti said he believes "the best case scenario" is to have a school resource officer on site, and that it was important for officers to interact with schools outside of times of crisis.

Creve Coeur Patch asked visitors to our Facebook page the same question. Here are some of the responses:

"I don't see a big issue with allowing teachers to be armed. I do feel it is a bit weird though. We aren't Israel, we aren't used to having armed teacher. I would be more comfortable with armed guards of some kind though. We post armed guards to keep banks and other valualbles safe, what is more valualble than our children?--Chris Ferguson

"I think SOMEONE in each school should be trained and armed."--Mary Schnure

Tell us what you think...should teachers be armed as a way of securing schools?

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