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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • Redwood schools continue dialogue about safety

  • When a tragedy strikes a school, regardless of where it is, administrators in districts not impacted start getting calls from concerned parents asking a legitimate question they want to have answered: what do you have in place to make sure nothing like that happens to my child?
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  • When a tragedy strikes a school, regardless of where it is, administrators in districts not impacted start getting calls from concerned parents asking a legitimate question they want to have answered.
    What do you have in place to make sure nothing like that happens to my child?
    According to state law, every school district must have an emergency plan in place, and that plan covers myriad subjects from school shootings to tornadoes and how the district reacts if they would happen.
    Rick Ellingworth, Redwood Area School District superintendent pulled out a several inches thick, three-ring binder that outlines a plan for just about every kind of emergency or tragedy one could imagine.
    “We want the public to know we have a pretty sophisticated plan in place,” Elling-worth said. “Of course we hope we never have to use them.”
    After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elemen-tary School in New-town, Conn., Elling-worth said he began getting e-mails from parents who wanted to know how the school would handle such a situation, asking everything from what is in place to prevent it and to know where they would pick up their children if something like that would happen.
    There are some things Ellingworth is able to share, while other information is not offered to them.
    Information, said Ellingworth could change based on the incident, and the last thing officials want to do is give the public information that would not be right in what is an emotionally stressful situation.
    The plan which has been established, based on guidance from the state, is also a team effort, said Ellingworth, who said everyone from law enforcement to other emergency personnel are involved and provide input.
    Ellingworth said the district would always err on the side of caution when dealing with an incident, adding in those times when a tragedy does happen, the operation of the school would be taken over by those who would best be able to handle the situation.
    The school district has implemented a number of efforts to do its best to keep kids safe, whether it is in keeping doors locked or requiring visitor passes of those who enter the school building.
    For Bob Tews, Cedar Mountain school superintendent, efforts were implemented this past summer including a new entrance at the Morgan site.
    He said the physical issues, as well as the pro-cesses are a vital part of ensuring the school is as ready as it can be for incidents should they occur.
    Tews and Ellingworth said ensuring safety is an ongoing process and both added an important element of dealing with a situation is not only working with the kids but the families and the entire community as a whole.
    Page 2 of 2 - Ellingworth said having Dana Woodford, the school resource officer in the building has been an asset, adding he is confident within seconds of an incident people would be ready to go.

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