HISD officials reassure parents that its schools are safe
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Don't look for any knee-jerk reactions in Houston to the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. HISD security officials are speaking out to assure parents that Houston schools are among the safest in the nation.
Reiterating the priority to keep students and teachers safe, school officials took time this morning to talk about how many safety measures the district has in place and how they practice those procedures on a regular basis.
"Our school buildings are probably the safest buildings in the city of Houston on any given day," said Chief Jimmy Dotson with the HISD Police Department.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, Chief Dotson says they are prepared for the worst case scenario and says since Friday's tragedy they are now in the process of reviewing their safety plans already in place.
"The moment that we were made aware of this shooting, we immediately started observing what was happening over the news and put all of our officers on very high alert Friday afternoon to make sure that all of our students and schools were safe. We will keep everyone on high alert for the rest of this week," Chief Dotson said.
He says the emergency response is something that is practiced on a regular basis.
"We have our risk management unit that does intruder drills. We have our officers that go in and conduct safety security surveys and we highly patrol around all of our schools," the chief told us.
Sam Sarabia, Chief HISD Elementary School Officer, says parents with younger students should be aware of what your child hears and sees on television and listen to any questions they may have.
"More than anything to assure them you're safe, you're safe at school and there are people around you whom you can always go to and get assistance," said Sarabia.
HISD's manager of psychological services added that a child's age will determine how a parent should respond to their child's questions or fears.
"The younger children will hear it very concretely. They may believe it is happening here or close by. They may not realize this happened very far away and that is a very unusual happening in school," said Dr. Patricia Weger.
Dr. Weger says most of all, let your child know they will be OK.
HISD says the specific emergency readiness plan is not released to the public, in order to maintain a high level of security on school campuses.
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