Just days after the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. stunned the nation when 20-year-old Adam Lanzo took the lives of 20 young school children and six adults in a shooting spree, many schools across the country have increased their security to ensure kids' safety.
Both Hopatcong and Sparta superintendents sent out messages to all parents on Saturday, letting them know that the schools are safe and that exisiting security protocols are in place and are being reviewed.
"My call was to reassure people that we are aware of the tragedy, we are looking at everything we do to ensure the safety of children and adults, and that we are going to continue with our routines," Maranzano said Monday.
In Sparta's message, Superintendent Dennis Tobin also attached a document with talking points for how parents can discuss this kind of crisis with their children.
"I want to assure all of our community members that a positive and safe learning environment exists in all of our Sparta Schools," he wrote in the email to parents. "This is a credit to our students, staff, parents and community members. It is also important for our parents and guardians to know that we have security procedures in place for any type of emergency situation."
All borough school principals met on Monday with Maranzano and a representative from Hopatcong Police where they reviewed the current safety plans and the implications of dealing with a crisis.
"Those are ongoing discussions but we are doing everything we can," he said. "We go above and beyond in terms of school safety and security with the resources that we have."
Tobin said the Sparta district administrative team also met Monday morning to review the current safety procedure.
"We reviewed our plan and procedures, and if anything right now we're just reinforcing some concepts of that plan with our staff," he said.
As of Monday, both districts have increased security for allowing visitors access to the buildings. While the buidlings are always locked and require visitors to get buzzed in, it will take more time before a visitor may be granted permission to enter.
All schools in both districts also have security cameras at the main entrances. Maranzano said the Hopatcong cameras are web-enabled where police can view them.
The tragedy on Friday also prompted police to have more of a presence in both Hopatcong and Sparta communities.
"For this week leading up to the holidays and the immediate week after this horrific situation in Connecticut, they [police] do plan on having more of a presence in our community and around our schools so our school community feels a little more safe and secure," Tobin said.
While the subject of the tragedy will not be discussed by teachers in the classrooms as the schools aim to maintain normal routines, the schools will have crisis teams and counslers available to talk to any students.
Maranzano said the current safety plan in the district covers every aspect of students' safety and adult protocols including fire drills, active shooter and intruder drills, and anything else that has to do with a disrpution of the school environment.
Under the state law, every district is required to practice the drills at least twice per month.
Maranzano said the district is doing everything they can right now to help the school community after the Connecticut tragedy.
"At this point we have an elevated sense of urgency, so we're doing everything we possibly can to ensure the safety of children."