Texas mass shooting prompts extra precautions, law enforcement presence at schools

ELGIN, Ill. (WLS) -- A police car sat in front of Huntley High School Wednesday. The school was one of many in the Chicago areas that had visible signs of increased security, including a law enforcement presence, in the wake of the latest school shooting.

Joliet Police were also on heightened alert, sending a tweet announcing an increased police presence at schools after a gunman killed 21 lives, creating an anxious time for students, parents and teachers.

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A fourth-grade teacher and two 10-year-old kids were among those killed in a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday.

"It really comes down to training our staff and making sure that people know what to do when there is a tragedy that strikes like this," said District U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders.

The superintendent of the state's second largest district sent out a note to staff, offering talking points for students.

"Try to reassure kids to the best of our ability even though they'll feel anxiety. Who wouldn't," Sanders said.

It also reassured staff and parents of the security plans in place and reminded them that despite the increased number of mass shootings, schools are still statistically the safest place for kids to be.

"We work and train so that as we move forward if anything like this ever occurred, that we are all operating as one smooth machine to try and mitigate any type of loss at all," said Carter Larry, president of the Northern Illinois School Safety Administrators Association.

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Larry said his group focuses on training to help schools be as prepared as possible in the event of a school shooting.

He said it may not be possible to stop a shooter intent on taking lives but with proper planning, officers can hope to minimize the loss of life.

One of the most recent mass shooting incidents in the Chicago area was not in a school but at the Henry Pratt company in Aurora in 2019 when an employee killed five co-workers.

The school district has tried to learn from that tragedy.

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The best thing we can do is prepare, reduce the number of targets and reduce access," said Kevin Triplet, safety officer for West Aurora School District 129. "Hardening our targets, reducing access to our buildings, challenging people as they come into our buildings, locking our classroom doors, increasing our ability to communicate with each other."

In addition to reviewing security, District U46 has also increased mental health. They have already budgeted to hire additional guidance counselors and social workers.
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