Friday's shootings at a Connecticut elementary school sent shock waves through school administrators in central Pennsylvania.
"We are on high alert," Bellwood-Antis Superintendent Brian Toth said Friday afternoon. "We will have staff in high visibility at dismissal time [Friday] and we asked Bellwood Borough police to patrol the grounds at dismissal."
Schools tightened security after the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, Hollidaysburg Area Superintendent Paul Gallagher said.
In the wake of the Columbine shootings, Gallagher said he and others across the nation installed camera systems at schools, locked schools down so that visitors entered by pressing a doorbell to be allowed inside school buildings and sign in at a school's main office.
"We are going to have to sit back again and evaluate our buildings," Gallagher said Friday. "Do we have all of the proper safety measures at our schools?"
Altoona Area School District will plan a shooter drill next year for one of its elementary schools, similar to the one held in August at its main campus, including the high and junior high schools, Penn Lincoln Elementary and the Greater Altoona Career and Technology Center, district spokeswoman Paula Foreman said.
"You can't prevent it, but you can do as much as possible to deter it," she said.
The district has five armed police officers but arming more of the district's security force is not probable, she said.
"I don't know that's the answer. We'll revisit the proactive things you can do for deterrence, but I don't think we will have more people walking around with guns," she said.
Teachers have "Safe School" plans, and practice crisis management drills in districts throughout the state. The area's rural districts, including Central Cambria, have far fewer visitors than districts in a city such as Altoona, but precautions are crucial, Superintendent Vince DiLeo said.
"The state police look at our buildings and tell us what a shooting situation would be like," he said. "I feel comfortable our administrators and teachers would know the lockdown procedures: stay inside, stay away from windows."
Gallagher did not fail to mention periodic weapon checks his district performs on students.
"Schools are the safest place children can be but when something like this happens in a community, it is devastating," he said.
Gallagher remembers what schools were like 30 years in the past. Those days are gone.
"Schools were open. You may have been able to walk right to your child's classroom," he said.