As students head back to school this week school administrators are taking extra safety precautions. Some Missoula schools are pulling out all the stops to help put parents and students at ease.
Amanda Williams teaches kindergarten at Missoula's DeSmet School. Her students spent their quiet time in class on Tuesday, drawing.
One little girl drew a heart, she told Williams it was for love.
All Williams’ students are 5 or 6-years-old, about the same age as the Sandy Hook Elementary victims, but most too young to know what happened.
“I don't think they've really understood or known what had happened,” said Williams.
But Williams understands what happened. She and other staff members have talked with counselors about the tragedy and how to cope. Monday, Missoula County Sheriff’s Deputies visited the school, to make sure students feel safe. Administrators also sent home a letter to parents, offering tips to talk to their kids, and also school resources.
While Williams has been trying to make the school days fun this week, she's also focused on safety.“I have windows facing the parking lot so I've constantly made myself more aware to check who's out there and who's pulling up.”
It's become a reminder and a conversation for all of DeSmet school. Administrators are looking at safety for every classroom, hallway, and entryway.
“We have all of the building locked except for the front doors.. there's not much foyer between the doors and the classrooms,” said DeSmet Principal Shelley Andres. “so we talked about maybe trying to get a lock system where parents are buzzed in or at least there's a camera there so we can see what's going on.”
Andres said the school board is also talking about the type of glass they have on the windows, and practicing lockdowns.
“We're doing everything to keep both kids and staff as safe as we can,” she said.
And in the days following such a horrific act, that's all Williams can hope for.
“I just made a conscious effort to make sure and let them know that I was really happy they're here and give them lots of loves and hugs and stuff.”