CHARLESTON, W.Va. - It's more than 600 miles from Charleston to Newtown, Conn., the site of Friday's horrific mass school shooting.
But many Kanawha County students and parents could still feel scared for school today.
It's crucial that teachers and parents let their children know they are safe when they come to school, said Dr. Bill Mullett, director of counseling for Kanawha County Schools.
"I think we need to tell our students, our young people, that the adults work very, very hard to (keep students) safe," Mullett said. "We want everybody to grow up and grow old and have a full life, have kids."
Mullett planned to meet with other school administrators Sunday evening to talk about how the school system could best help students cope.
It's very important for teachers and parents to reassure students of their own safety when they go to school, he said. That doesn't mean people need to lie about what happened; if children ask about the shooting, Mullett said an adult should ask them what they've heard and what they think about that information.
Such tragedies are thankfully rare, Mullett said, and teachers and parents should tell students as much. Teachers and school administrators should talk about the safety measures and drills that are in place at school. Students should be told the drills are practiced to help keep them safe, Mullett said.
There are two main procedures for Kanawha County Schools in the face of an emergency: sheltering in place and a lockdown.
Sheltering in place was implemented last week in the Sissonville area following a massive gas line explosion nearby. The order was quickly deemed unnecessary, but Mullett said the policy is in place in the event there is a chemical or similar emergency.
Cedar Grove Community School - the middle and elementary schools in Cedar Grove - were recently put on lockdown. The procedure went into effect after the school learned that a parent had a gun and might go to the school. The parent did not, but the school still went through the emergency measures.
Teachers lock their doors, Mullett said. It's a simple and effective policy, he said. Law enforcement officials also go to schools when they are put on lockdown, and school doors are supposed to be locked during the day.