BRYANT, Ark. -- Thousands of Central Arkansas teachers and students went back to school Monday.
The New Year brought beefed-up security measures to some area school districts still feeling the heartache from the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting last month.
At Bryant schools, students and teachers were getting back in the swing of things but with a few reminders about security.
"Obviously everything that happened in Connecticut, it's always on your
mind. There's renewed emphasis all the time," Superintendent Randy
Rutherford is now enforcing better security measures, including sending
out a directive to the entire faculty and staff mandating that their
doors be locked during instructional time--that includes the gym for
physical education classes.
Rutherford and elementary principal Stacey Smith said while always required, locking classroom doors didn't always happen.
"It's something that we did have in place, but it was pretty lax just
for the fact that we're an elementary school with younger kids,"
Principal Stacy Smith said.
Like many districts in Central Arkansas, the Home of the Hornets, reviewed emergency plans as well.
"As a staff, we have sent out our crisis plan as a draft to get more
input. We have made some minor changes to it to make sure we are
well-prepared," Rutherford said.
She gave no specifics for security reasons, but school leaders will publicize a plea for help.
"Just everybody needs to be on alert for different things that don't look right or feel right," Rutherford said.
Bryant Schools also continue parent watch dog groups,
which are basically volunteers, dads or grandfathers, who spend the day
at school helping monitor the building. This is an out-growth of the
Jonesboro school shootings back in 1998.
The principal at Hill Farm Elementary said there is a volunteer almost every day at her building.
These parent watchdog groups are also active in Cabot and the Pulaski
County Special School District. The principal at Robinson Middle School
in Little Rock told THV 11 News that they have a new group getting
underway right now.