Helping Syracuse students feel safe at school


ll over the world, and certainly here in Central New York, parents are hugging their children a little closer, as schools find ways to step up their security.

At H.W. Smith School, there was a police car in the parking lot this morning.

Like all the schools in the district, H.W. Smith has a single, video monitored entrance.

Everyone must be buzzed in to get inside.

Staff have to use their badges, and students are told not to open the door to anyone.

The school already has several different crisis plans in place, but it's looking for new ways to make sure students are safe.

Right now, it's important for parents, teachers and staff to talk to students about any worries they may have.

"I think that panic, stress and anxiety tend to set in when people are uninformed or when they try not to talk about it," says Jennifer Towsley, the psychologist at H.W. Smith.

A mother of two, she understands the concerns parents have.

"I think it is always difficult and I think we all hugged our children a little tighter this morning and as always said, 'have a great day at school," Towsley says.

"The first words in my mouth were, 'Oh my God, what if these were our babies. The first thing I had to do was sit down and analyze what plans we had here get that to the staff and them them through e-mail that we were going to make sure our plans were safe," says H.W. Smith Principal Sharon Birnkrant, on the first thoughts that ran through her mind watching the situation at Sandy Hook Elementary unfold.

In all, upwards of 850 students attend H.W. Smith; grades kindergarten through 8th grade.