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Group focuses on safety of Pa. schools - abc27 WHTM

Group focuses on safety of Pa. schools

Posted: Updated:
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

According to the Center for Safe Schools, every school in Pennsylvania must have a safety plan. Those plans focus on natural disasters like floods and tornadoes as well as shootings.

What is in the plan is determined by each district. The schools work with local law enforcement, fire departments and EMTs to prepare the plans.

Don Smith with the Center For Safe Schools says the details of those plans can not be released to the public for safety reasons.

"Although parents would like to see that plan so they can see specifically what is going on, part of operational security is the school should not be releasing that to the general public, which includes the parents," Smith said. "Parents should be made aware that there are plans in place and they should certainly be reassured that plans cover all hazards such as the shootings, natural emergencies such as floods, fires and all those things."

PA Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis says schools across the commonwealth are about as safe as can be.

"Our role as educators is to be as vigilant as possible, to make sure that we put protections in place to make sure this doesn't happen," he said. "But you can not seal a building up totally."

Tomalis said schools across the country will look at what happened in Connecticut to see if there is any thing that can be done to make things safer.

"We now need to think about ways and be alert and we step a little bit more as to how alert we are as to the protections that we put in place," he said.

The Center for Safe Schools assists schools in their emergency planning. Smith says they are advising that school districts not overreact to the shooting in Connecticut.

"One of the things we would caution schools not to do is go to knee jerk reactions to over fortify themselves," Smith said. "We need to reaffirm the fact schools are safe places. The percentage of these incidents is very low in schools. Although they are horrific when they happen, they are a very low percentage."

For the past several years, an advisory committee has been working with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency on a hazards planning tool kit to assist schools in planning for emergencies.

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