Officials hold reunification drill at Norris Elementary in South - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Officials hold reunification drill at Norris Elementary in Southampton

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

With repeated school shootings across the country, school districts are taking more precautions to try and keep teachers and students safe.

In Southampton today, a first of its kind safety drill was conducted.

With the Parkland, FL school shooting still very much on everyone's minds, the drill on Thursday couldn't have been more timely - even though this safety drill has been in the planning stages for some time.

Police cars and signs reading "Police Training in Progress" were seen outside the Norris Elementary School in Southampton this morning.

Police officers, students, school officials, and parents - who were coming to pick up their children  - were part of a safety drill to help prepare for a worst case scenario like a school shooting.

"We're doing a school reunification drill.  We had a lockdown at Hampshire Regional.  Students were locked down following our procedure and we evacuated the school to bring them to an off-site location.  We chose Norris Elementary School in Southampton for reunification with their parents," said Hampshire Regional School Supt. Craig Jurgensen.

The Hampshire Regional School District is the first in the area to practice this kind of reunification drill.

It's been in the works for years.

"The purpose is to help our staff and families know what to do, so they're not in the way of emergency responders in case anything needs to happen at the school and to direct them to provide enough structure, so families can be reunified with their students as quickly and efficiently as possible," said Hampshire Regional High Principal Kristen Smidy. 

The parents and students who took part in the drill feel it helps .

"I felt it was a safe environment.  There were a lot of people around to help us out," said River Williams.

Having everyone from police to school officials, teachers and students on the same page.

"If you have 20 to 30 students who know what they're doing or have a general sense of what they're doing it can be much more helpful to the other students," said West Williams.

Mark Williams added, "I'm grateful to the school, taking the initiative and saying you know this will probably never happen we don't want to scare you, but let's be ready."

Officials also noted that since this was the first of its kind drill here in western Massachusetts, about 10 area police departments took parts well.

They will take some of the lessons learned back to their own hometown departments.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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