ST. LOUIS — School districts in the St. Louis region reassured parents of safety protocols in place to protect students following a massacre in Texas that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers.
These safety measures came into play in St. Louis County on Wednesday when an armed suspect evaded police following a home invasion in Kirkwood. Two schools were put on a lockdown or lockout as a precaution.
At North Glendale Elementary School, most of the students were already gone for the day — but the lockout was initiated to keep the remaining children and teachers on campus safe.
Police arrested one suspect, but the second suspect police deemed armed and dangerous got away.
A spokesperson for the Kirkwood School District said these protocols are in place for emergencies like this one and the shooting in Texas.
Schools around the St. Louis area added to a chorus of educators reassuring families of the safety protocols and counselors they already have in place.
In a letter to parents, the Rockwood School District emphasized how they will “work with them closely to ensure that our schools are secure”
And they are. The Ellisville Police Department works with Rockwood School District with multiple resource officers at high schools.
“I sent out an email to the department for help, and it wasn’t even really a discussion. They just said tell us when and where to be, and we’ll be there,” said Ellisville Police School Officer Sgt. George Coreless.
There aren’t any Ellisville police officers stationed at elementary schools. Resource officers like Coreless only pass through.
“I’m in the schools every day, but there’s one of me and five schools that we have to deal with. So we’re having the officers there that are on the street just driving through parking lots, patrolling the school grounds, stopping in, waving to the kids just so people never know when we’ll be there. But they know that we are there.”
A father of two elementary-aged children himself, he called on the department for help beefing up patrol at schools immediately Wednesday morning.
“Just to show that we’re out here and there’s a lot of us, and if you come to one of our schools, you’re going to meet resistance,” he said.
The plan is to give resource officers backup with cops driving around the area and coming into schools at random to give resource officers back up.
As for other schools, St. Louis Public Schools said in a letter to families Wednesday, “Our staffs across the district are being extra vigilant when it comes to the safety and security measures we employ every day.
They have over 100 private security officers throughout the district.
Parkway School District said in a letter to their parents, “Safety is always our first priority, but we also want our schools to continue to be warm, welcoming places where students feel cared for each day.”
Dr. O’Brien, the director of Webster University’s counseling program, specializes in trauma and helped those grieving after the Sandyhook Elementary School shooting.
She says the grief and pain will linger.
“The trauma will continue to affect them and affect their daily lives, that’s where I learned that once the spotlight comes off the pain is still there. So they will continue needing people to come in,” said O’Brien.
She plans to gather a team to go to Uvalde in the near future to help again.
A promise to families as the nation grieves yet another mass school shooting.