Friday morning's tragic fatal shooting at a Newtown, CT elementary school has caused heartbreak, sorrow and questions—including "what if this happened here?"
Newtown, much like Ramona, is a small town that according to Newton Patch, was voted "the safest place to live in America." Ramona Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Robert Graeff told Patch that though Ramona has been "very blessed" to never experience a schoolwide tragedy like the Newtown shooting, precautions are still made by the district.
"We fully understand that we are also not immune to threats from off-campus or from on-campus," Graeff said in an email. "Maintaining close relationships with our local sheriff and fire departments, ensuring that our emergency drills are current and practiced, and reminding staff to continually stay on guard for potential threats are the primary tools that we use to protect our students and staff."
Graeff said that each school in Ramona Unified has detailed emergency plans for a "wide variety of potential threats." Procedures for fires, earthquakes and even intruder alerts are practiced on a "regular basis," the superintendent said.
"Administrators use these opportunities to remind staff and students of proper procedures for each of the various scenarios," Graeff said. "Unfortunately, not every situation can ever be anticipated and every school is limited to the amount of safety features and staff we can include."
If a school in Ramona Unified does ever face an emergency, Graeff said there is a parent all-call system, which allows the site affected to place phone calls to every parent at specific schools or across the entire district with minutes.
"We use this service quite often to promote various school events, but have also alerted parents in the past when safety issues have arisen," Graeff said, like in the case of a suspicious person near Olive Peirce Middle School and Ramona High School in October.
Graeff extended thoughts and prayers to the residents of the entire Newtown community.
"Clearly, today's shooting is deeply disturbing and causes us to cry out in anguish at the mere thought of what must be going on in Newtown," he said. "Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers reach out to the families affected by this extraordinary tragedy, as well as to their entire community.
Officials have confirmed that 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown have died, as well as six adults, including the shooter, and one adult victim at a "secondary scene" in Connecticut.
Patch editors in Connecticut are updating the story with photos and video. Check the coverage at Newtown Patch.
Patch is sending thoughts and prayers to all involved in the horrible tragedy.