LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Central Arkansas school districts were on guard Monday as students returned to class following Friday's mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
THV 11 News reached out some ten school districts from Hot Springs to Vilonia and all of them were keeping a closer eye security on Monday. THV 11 got a closer look at one Little Rock elementary school where school leaders and counselors are still coming to terms with such a horrible tragedy.
"Our hearts were just saddened, just saddened," Lillie Carter said.
Lillie Carter is the principal at Pulaski Heights Elementary School in Little Rock, and on Monday, she kept a close watch over her kids following Friday's tragic school shooting in Connecticut.
"After I arrived in my office a parent was sitting in my office to see me because her daughter was concerned and requested that we speak with her," Carter said.
Carter said counselors were part of the response Monday to keep kids feeling safe in school. Counselor Patricia Erwin encouraged kids to talk about it if they want.
"If your child wants to talk about it, please let them. Tell them that you know it's OK. Reassure them, and that's what we've done here," Erwin said.
Pulaski Heights also had a security officer doing the rounds Monday and Carter said, even before the day started, they reviewed emergency plans and more.
"We had a meeting early this morning with our staff before the first bell, and our counselor talked to the staff, and I talked to the staff," Carter said.
Carter said if necessary, like in Connecticut, she would give her own life to make sure these kids get to write letters to Santa year after year.
"I am a principal. A principal lost their life. I said to my husband last evening that I would have done the same thing. I would have been in the hallways, trying to protect our students," Carter said.
Erwin echoed the principal's comments about being there for kids in such a crisis. As for her work on Monday, she said she met one student face-to-face and talked to another class as a whole. She said students in that class said they were scared about being at school on Monday.
THV 11 also asked school officials at Pulaski Heights Elementary if they were aware of any students that didn't come to school Monday because of the tragedy. The principal would only tell us that five students called in sick and wouldn't elaborate any further to protect the families.
The following are a few other notes from other school districts around Central Arkansas on Monday:
• Greenbrier School Superintendent Scott Spanhour said that he's working on having State Police conduct an active shooter training drill at a district building over the holiday break. Spanhour also said he's been in contact with Greenbrier police about parent concerns and going over the district's emergency plans.
• In Benton, School District Spokeswoman Mary Morgan said they contacted Benton Police to have more patrols around campus on Monday. The district also has a counselor in every building and is not encouraging discussions about the tragedy. Morgan said normalcy is the best path to take right now for students.
• In the Pulaski County Special School District, Superintendent Jerry Guess sent out an email to building administrators on Friday. Below is a copy of the letter sent to principals via the district's Communications Director Deb Roush:
On behalf of Dr. Guess and in light of the school shooting in Connecticut (see link below), he has requested that you take extra safety precautions immediately and through next week. Please make sure your school follows all established safety/security procedures. Please ensure that all exterior doors are locked and that you keep your eyes and ears open for anything out of the ordinary.
If you have Watch Dog groups or volunteer security, you may want to ask them for extra assistance.