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Communities reflect on Newtown school shooting

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Albany/HV: Communities reflect on Newtown school shooting
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As parents decide the best way to discuss the school shooting in Newtown with their children, many school leaders are focused on school security and their commitment to keeping children safe. Our Megan Cruz has the story.

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- At first glance, a cheerful start to a Monday morning at Woodlawn Elementary School. But behind some of those smiles: sadness.

"It was horrible, absolutely horrible. See, I'm going to cry," said Michelle Ellis. Her son Jake is in first grade at Woodlawn. "Just wanted to come find him, make sure he was alright."

Friday's disturbing events still lingered on the minds of many as they drop their kids off.

"It was terrible," said Anita Persaud, whose daughter Selena is in kindergarten. "I didn't want to bring my kid to school today. But what I'm going to do? She needs an education."

That anxiety alleviated when she and other parents arrived at school.

"They know everyone here," said Ellis. "They know the parents by name, the kids by name."

"They only have one door that people are allowed in, they have a buzzer," said Michelle Perez. Her son Matthew is in sixth grade. "So I feel pretty safe with him being here."

But New York State Education Commissioner John King says you can never be too safe. He's reached out to all superintendents.

"Encouraging them to be vigilant about school safety issues, to review their school safety procedures," said King. "I spoke with the Superintendent of State Police on Friday, and he offered to be helpful in anyway."

In Schenectady, Superintendent Larry Spring says the district has begun their review process, and has already identified a weakness. It's in regards to staff members who work out of several school buildings.

"They tend to not go through the main entrance, they tend not to check in with main office staff, they have their own key to get in separate doors, and we said we should probably think about different procedures for those folks so that we know who's coming in, where they are, why they're there," said Spring.

In the meantime, parents say they'll focus on their kids' emotional well-being, each taking different approaches.

"He had some questions. We were honest with him, and he was ok," said Perez.

"He just wouldn't be able to comprehend that," said Ellis. "He would never want to go to school if he heard someone his age got killed."

A senseless tragedy that calls for a sensitive approach and very tailored to healing.

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