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Locally, school goes smoothly Monday
Charles Wilson web
Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson

    School proceeded normally in Bulloch County on Monday, the first day of class since the tragic Connecticut school shooting.
    In fact, attendance across Bulloch County Schools was slightly higher Monday (93.8 percent of students in class) than it had been Friday (93.5 percent), district spokeswoman Hayley Greene said.
    The Friday morning massacre did prompt Superintendent Charles Wilson to review the district’s safety procedures hours later with Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn.
    The conclusion: “Mr. Wynn and I both agreed that we have as good of a plan in place that can be reasonably expected, but that we all need to remain alert,” Wilson said.
    While specific details of the district’s safety procedures are confidential, “to protect the integrity of our safety plan, and thus the safety of our students and staff,” the superintendent said, he did share some broad outlines of the plan.
    All exterior doors into all Bulloch County public schools, except the front entrance, are locked at all times. Classroom doors are locked during instruction. Visitors must sign in at the front office before they are allowed to go farther into the school, and they must wear a nametag.
    Law enforcement agencies patrol schools randomly and are at times on-site.
    The school system has an electronic messaging system that allows officials to contact all parents in case of emergencies, but parents must keep their telephone numbers current with the school for the messages to go through.
    To help parents and students cope with any anxiety the Connecticut shooting might have prompted, Wilson sent out an “all call” using the messaging system Sunday evening. He also has addressed school employees.
    “We are focused on safety and academics, yet we are sensitive to your concerns. Please feel free to contact your school’s principal or myself if you need to talk,” Wilson said.
    “Also, we understand that in our era of 24-hour news our students and faculty members may have heard many graphic details about the incident and therefore may have anxiety about returning to school. Our school psychologists and counselors are available in times of crisis like these to assist those who need to talk about their feelings and fears.”
    Greene said there were some drops in attendance Monday at a couple of elementary schools, primarily in prekindergarten, kindergarten and first grade.
    “But some of that may be attributed to early vacation, since school is only in session two days this week, or illness due to the rise in cases of flu virus in the community,” she said.
    Winter break begins Wednesday, and classes resume Jan. 7.
    Wilson also expressed his, and the Bulloch County school system’s, condolences those affected by the tragedy.
    “Words cannot express the sorrow we feel for the families and faculty at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut,” Wilson said. “Knowing that the Newtown Public School District cares for its students and faculty and their well-being just as we do, we pray for their healing, strength and wisdom in the days ahead.”
    “Lastly,” Wilson said in concluding his statement, “I encourage you to keep the victims and their families in your heart-felt thoughts and prayers. And on behalf of myself and all of our Bulloch County Schools employees, I ask you to do the same each day for our students and community.”

    Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.

Wilson Statement - WEB
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