BY LAUREN HENRY
Parents may have noticed a Greene County Sheriff's Department vehicle at each of the county schools this morning.
The presence of deputies was a show of moral support following the shooting tragedy in Newton, Conn.
The elementary school massacre, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults, has brought safety to the forefront of everyone's attention.
"In lieu of the tragedy, we wanted to show our support as parents are bringing their children to school," Sheriff Steve Burns said this morning.
He said that the presence of sheriff's deputies at each of the county elementary, middle and high schools is not in response to any local threat, but is rather a comfort for parents and children concerned by the tragedy.
It is usual to see a deputy at the high schools and occasionally an elementary or middle school, but today's presence was an added show of support by the Sheriff's Department.
Director of Greene County Schools Dr. Vickie Kirk said that safety measures are in place to ensure the safety of all students.
"We believe our schools are safe places for our children," Kirk said.
"Our faculty and staff are very vigilant of the safety of our children; it is our number-one priority. You can't have learning going unless children are safe."
Kirk said each of the schools is locked after school starts, and the only entrance is through the school office to ensure that each visitor is accounted for. Each of the four county high schools has an officer on patrol.
"We also do drill lockdowns so our children know what to do in the event of an emergency," she said.
Kirk went on to say, "I am deeply saddened by the events that have happened. I know that parents and teachers and all caring adults are concerned about the safety of our children.
"I would like to reassure everyone that we are safe. In today's society their are no guarantees for anyone, but our children are safe in our schools, and we are committed to keeping it that way."
Director of Greeneville City Schools Dr. Linda Stroud gave assurance that the city schools are safe places for Greeneville's children.
"Along with all other schools and communities across our nation, our hearts are broken and our prayers are with the students, teachers, and parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
"This horrific tragedy is truly beyond comprehension to all educators, and certainly, to all parents," said Stroud, in a written statement to The Greeneville Sun.
"I spoke personally with Greeneville City principals this weekend to discuss plans for our students to return to school on Monday.
"Our guidance counselors are available to talk with any student who may have questions or need reassurance
"Additionally, we are sharing information with our teachers from the Crisis Management Institute concerning answering children's questions in situations such as these.
"As I have said many times in the past, our first priority is the safety of our students. We have security systems and emergency plans in place for all of our schools.
"However, we also know that it is the relationships that parents and educators have with students that are usually the best prevention to these tragic situations.
"We encourage parents to talk and listen to their children and share information with adults in their schools about any concerns they may have.
"Additionally, I would personally ask that all in our community who are so inclined to, pray daily for our community schools."
A Greeneville police officer is daily in each city school zone, and a Greeneville police officer is assigned to patrol Greeneville High School.