Increased security measures are the new reality for many students returning to class following the holiday break Tuesday all over Connecticut.
Schools districts typically review and upgrade their safety policies and procedures every year, but in light of the tragedy in Newtown, several school officials are now putting their plans under the microscope to improve security as much as possible.
Adam Lanza opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary, killing 20 first-grade students and six adults. He shot and killed his mother before heading to the school while she slept in bed.
Avon is among the school systems strengthening safety measures. There were extra police present at all five public schools in the town Wednesday.
Officials had a new audio-visual buzzer system to unlock the door and help identify visitors at the high school installed.
Both the front and rear entrances will remain locked during school hours Wednesday. Following the Newtown school shooting, school officials decided the main entrance would be locked.
"It's seriously awful what happened," said Avon freshman Riley Lynch. "This security needs to happen because if it doesn't a lot of people will be really scared."
A pair of private, unarmed security officer were stationed at the front and back of the building. The security will stay on the school campus during after-school hours as well.
"We secured them during recess period," said Avon Superintendent of Schools Gary Mala about the new security guards. "We trained them on our procedures for signing in and out too."
Students in Avon told Eyewitness News that they feel "a lot safer" with the new security guards.
"They were supervisory, not really with guns or anything, which is good," Lynch said. "I feel like because that coulda been scary for kids here."
Mala said "communication is critical to success of any organization."
"It's important for us to be forthright, and upfront and as specific and simple as possible," he said.
Avon parents told Eyewitness News that the changes have put them at ease.
"It re-affirms my belief in the school system," said Katrina Marin, who is the parent of a pre-schooler. "I've seen police cars present, it allays my fears."
Parent David Morgan agrees with Marin and told Eyewitness News that he could not enter the building Wednesday morning.
"Anything that we have, it's better than how it's been," he said.
Other school districts throughout the state are reviewing their policies and procedures following the Newtown school shooting.
School officials in Hartford told Eyewitness News that they are adding extra patrols as well as reviewing its lockdown and emergency response plans.
Ellington school officials are bringing back its full-time school resource officer, while the state police will oversee a security audit.
Simsbury Public Schools are hiring an independent consultant to evaluate their emergency practices.
Eyewitness News also learned there's a school security symposium scheduled for next week. The event is only for Connecticut educators, not members of the public, and feature experts from around the country on school safety.
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