St. Johns County School District begins testing of emergency automated call services

Principals at all 33 schools in county take closer look at safety, security policies

ST. JOHNS, Fla. – In the aftermath of Friday's elementary school massacre in Connecticut, a local school system has begun testing of its emergency automated call services.

"Good evening. This is Steve McCormick, principal of Fruit Cove Middle School," said a recorded telephone message.

Parents of more than 31,000 students in the St. Johns County school district received this automated call after news broke of the Connecticut school massacre.

"School district administrators are working with local law enforcement and school principals to review emergency preparedness and procedures," continued the message.

The deaths of 20 children, six adults, and the gunman, identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza has prompted principals at all 33 schools in the county to take a closer look at their own safety and security policies, and admit there is always room for improvement.

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"It's an awful reminder, but it's a reminder of us to not allow that to be a book on a shelf, or a chart on a wall, but we bring those pieces to life," said Tim Forson, deputy superintendent of St. Johns County Schools.

District officials say each school in St. Johns County has a fire drill every month and at least one other mass evacuation drill during the year. But could drills for a mass shooting become part of classroom life as well? Some parents believe it should be.

"I think that's something they may want to consider. It seems like this is happening more and more," said Joe and Ruthie Shaker, who have children in the school district. "There's tornado drills, there's hurricane drills. There's no question about it. They may start having drills like this."

As details continue to emerge from this tragedy, the district says it has its entire team of 56 counselors preparing for the questions and confusion that come after such a senseless act of violence.

The St. Johns County School District is encouraging parents to visit its website for information on security policies and help on how to answer questions about how to talk to your children about the Connecticut tragedy.