In Washington state, there were no school threats reported Friday, but there was plenty of sadness as parents and school officials learned more details about the mass school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
The Seattle police department took the cautionary step of increasing patrols around schools Friday, after a gunman killed 26 children and adults at the Connecticut elementary school.
A post on the department's blog said there have been no threats to area schools. But it said their office took a lot of calls and wanted to reassure families and faculty concerned for student safety. The Seattle School District also took a lot of calls and shared that security operations remained normal.
All Seattle police officers undergo rapid intervention training, which includes practice response and rescue during scenarios like this one, said Mayor Mike McGinn during a Friday news conference at City Hall.
Joining McGinn was Police Chief John Diaz, who discussed gun violence.
We have a gun culture in this country, one that Ibelieve needs to change, said Diaz. It's extremely difficult, but I think the gun show loopholes is a good example of something that needs to change.
In response to the tragedy, Seattle, Tacoma and Lake Washington public school districts also sent letters to students' families, expressing sadness while also assuring parents they were taking precautions to ensure students safety.
In the aftermath of such tragic events, we want to share with you how we are working to make sure that our students needs are fully addressed, Seattle School Superintendent Jose Banda said in his letter. We are closely monitoring the situation and have asked our principals to be extra vigilant in their schools today. We have not heard of any threats in Seattle, and our Security department reports normal operations in schools throughout the District.
The Seattle School District also fielded multiple calls from concerned parents, prompting the extra safety precautions. School staff were also coordinating additional guidance counselors on hand to provide emotional support for students next week.
In statement posted on their Facebook page, Tacoma Public Schools also said they were also reviewing their safety guidelines with the Tacoma Police Department to ensure students' safety:
Tacoma Public schools in partnership with the Tacoma Police Department have safety guidelines that are in place to assure our schools are safe and secure. With the news of today s sad event, schools across our district are reviewing our security guidelines and staff is on alert to watch out for any unexpected behaviors. Please know that the safety of our students, staff and visitors is of primary concern at all of our campuses. In an effort to monitor our community, we are staying in close contact with the Tacoma Police Department and our neighboring school districts.
Schools officials also encouraged parents to talk with their children about the shooting to help them understand and cope with feelings around the tragedy.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn planned to hold a 3:45pm news conference with Seattle police on the events in Connecticut.