White Plains superintendent discusses plans to keep students safe following mass shootings

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Questions regarding safety and security in Hudson Valley communities are being asked with a bit more urgency following the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

Dr. Joseph Ricca, the superintendent for the White Plains school district, says he is making it clear to his community that he's focused on keeping his students safe.

"There's very little that you can prepare for when you're talking about a situation with a semi-automatic weapon or an automatic weapon,” he says.

Ricca, who is responsible for more than 7,000 students, says the work they do is to provide safety and security within the schools to make sure buildings have single points of entry and to have plans and practice those plans. But some wonder if that’s enough.

"That's the really sad thing about these types of situations. They can happen anywhere, at any time,” he says.

According to the United States Secret Service, there were 27 mass shootings across the country in 2018 that took place in public spaces, like schools or houses of worship. In total, 91 people died.

Some of the most terrifying questions that come to mind after shootings like the ones in El Paso, Texas, and in Dayton, Ohio, are how to keep communities safe and whether there is a way to prepare for the worst.

"Well here in White Plains we've taken some very aggressive and proactive steps to provide our children at the school level with proactive resources … guidance counselors, social workers, access to mental health services, close connections with parents and guardians,” says Ricca.

White Plains has added security to its elementary schools, which will be implemented this school year.

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