21-year-old Backus woman killed in crash in Pine River

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PR-B Schools look at security in light of Connecticut school tragedy

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Last month’s elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., which left 20 young children and six educators dead, had many parents concerned about the safety of their own children at area schools.

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“I think we all feel shaken by this and I understand how hard it is for parents to send their children to school today,” Pine River-Backus Superintendent Cathy Bettino said right after the tragedy.

Bettino said she and other school staff met the Monday after the tragedy to discuss the district’s safety procedures at both the elementary and high school buildings.

Bettino said the district has had a good security process since renovations were made at each school building’s main entrance two years ago. There is only one entrance open during the school day at each building. Visitors must check in at each office in order to gain entrance to each building.

Still, Bettino said she and her staff decided to increase security by adding another step in the process of entering the school buildings. She did not specify what that step would be.

In a letter sent home with students, Bettino urged parents to use only the office entrances when visiting the schools and check in at the office immediately when they arrive.

She also asked that parents and other visitors make sure they let the office staff know when they are leaving the building. She sent home tips for parents on how to help them discuss the tragedy with their children.

Bettino reminded parents that despite the devastating tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., schools continue to be a safe place.

“We want them to be safe,” Bettino said. “Making sure our children are safe at school is our No. 1 priority.”

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Jodie Tweed
Jodie Tweed has been a staff writer at the Brainerd Dispatch since May 1997, primarily covering education and writing human interest stories. She also took over as HealthWatch editor in the spring of 2010. A graduate of Pequot Lakes High School, she received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications at Bemidji State University and her master’s degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University. She previously worked as news director at KLKS Radio in Breezy Point and was a media consultant at a Twin Cities public relations firm. She also worked as a staff assistant for the former “Nashville Now” television show on The Nashville Network while attending college in Nashville. She and her husband, Nels, have three daughters, Erika, 17, Madeline, 2, and Beatrice, who was born in April 2011.
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