Back to school is all about getting back into a routine. But many families point out that this year is different, as more and more schools try to balance security with that routine.
Channel 3 Eyewitness News looked into how school districts across the country are tackling that as the new norm, in the wake of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Channel 3 New Haven Bureau Chief Robert Goulston attended the National School Safety Conference in Las Vegas over the summer, where survivors of the Newtown shooting were also looking for answers.
"She was just loved and adored by all of them," Michele Gay said. "It was an incredible place, Sandy Hook."
Only one of Gay's little girls made it out of Sandy Hook Elementary School that December morning.
She remembers the parking lot.
The long wait.
And finally the realization that she couldn't rely on others to keep her children safe.
Ever since the mass-shooting in our state, the question has been, how do you make sure this never happens again? It was the focus at the National School Safety conference in Las Vegas, and as Goulston found out, there are many things that people can do.
Gay and her now close friend Carly Posey, whose son survived the shooting, attended the conference in search of information and answers as well as a way to create change.
They said they spent the week listening.
"Even the smallest things can make a difference," Gay said. "We're talking something as simple as Sandy Hook, as a classroom door that would have locked upon being closed would have saved a lot of lives, if not all of them."
Former police officer Curt Lavarello runs the School Safety Advocacy Council. That group runs the School Safety Conference every year.
But this year, after Newtown, the focus is on what schools have to do, not what they should do, and how parents need to make it happen.
"Because a loud parent voice in the community will create change," he said. "No doubt."
The country is approaching school security from so many different angles with so many different ideas.
"We have to change our tactics," Washington State Police Sgt. Scott Brown said.
He was one of the presenters at the conference. Whether or not you agree with the tactic or not, high school students in his town are being trained, instead of running and hiding, to actually go after the intruder.
It's an idea the school district is planning to expand to all grades, including elementary school students.
"I think it was more empowering to these guys letting them know I have some control over what's going to happen."
Gay and Posey, who has since relocated to Colorado, said they're open to all ideas and said it is clear there is no one answer for every community.
They also listened to their own children in search for answers.
Posey's son ran past the killer as he reloaded his gun, and as the new year starts he only has one concern.
"He wants the doors locked in his new school," Posey said. "We're learning from him."
"If you want to know anything about school security ask the students," she said. "They are a wealth of info."
Even though she's devastated by her daughter's death, Gay said she's on a mission.
"She was amazing and she continues to inspire me," she said.
The main focus of the conference was to inspire communities to figure out new ways to make their school safer.
As this series continues, Goulston will look at some of the new technology and new ways of thinking.
To check out the new Safe and Sound Schools website, created by families from Sandy Hook, click here.
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