NORWALK, Conn. – Almost one year after the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, in which 26 people, including 20 children, were killed, some people say that tightened security at Norwalk Public Schools has created an entirely different atmosphere.
“Everybody’s on edge,” Angela Harrison said, describing the mood at Nathan Hale Middle School. “They’re not friendly any more. We’ve lost that friendliness with the staff and the parents.”
One person said parents picking up their children from an after-school program at Naramake Elementary School now have to go around to the back of the school, where it is poorly lit, to the library. A staff person then summons their child via a “walkie talkie,” and parents cannot go into the building.
Carolyn Fuller, who works in special education at Jefferson Elementary School, said that’s for the best.
“Especially after school you can’t have just anybody go into the school,” she said.
A recent drill at the school was an eye-opener, she said.
“Believe me, I’m a grown woman,” she said. “I’m telling you, when we had to … put the light out – we had a policeman in our building. When that door started jiggling, I can imagine how kids that have to go to school today must feel because I got scared and I knew it was only a drill. But he was jiggling the door. Now I’m looking around the room thinking where am I going to go? You’re thinking. But then what do you think when you’ve got 24 kids in the room? Where are they going to go? So it’s a whole different day now.”
But Dawn Calle, the mother of a 4-year-old boy and an 8-year-old boy, said Brookside Elementary School teachers made improving school safety fun, covering the windows with artwork. The furniture in the rooms was rearranged, she said, and the kids played games – looking for hiding places.
The doors are locked.
“It used to be I could come into the building,” she said. “You have to call inside now and they let you in… But they haven’t really changed the feel of the school. I still feel like I can go and once you’re known, you’re known, kind of thing.”
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