Parents at Sherman Elementary School Monday morning saw immediate changes. They watched with surprise but understanding as administrators tightened security Monday morning. "They've locked the doors after I've left. It's kind of harsh, but it's the reality you know," Alison O'Mahony said. "So unfortunately, that's the world that we're living in that as soon as the kids get into elementary school we have to lock down the doors."
Monday was the students' first day back after the Newtown shootings. Parents say the tragedy was definitely on their minds as they dropped off their kids. "It's a tough day for anybody, but bringing your kids to school, certainly well aware of all the thoughts that are going on with the families and the kids of course, and the teachers," parent Kris Van Giesen said.
The principal at Sherman Elementary said Monday was an extremely difficult day for schools. She didn't want to speak to ABC7 News on camera because she wanted to be with her students, but parents heard from her over the weekend and say they appreciated that. "They also invited parents to get involved with an effort to work with first responders, so they were calling for volunteers. So, they seem to be being really proactive about that," O'Mahony said.
Superintendent Richard Carranza said he realized Monday would not be an ordinary day and had experts watching over the kids. "We have a number of individuals at the school sites that have been trained on going through traumatic incidents and then debriefing them and the grievance process," he said. "So, we have some trained individuals out in the schools and will be there the rest of this week."
Additional police officers are joining those counselors at the schools to address problems or concerns.
On the Peninsula, the Millbrae School District has four elementary and one middle school. Once a month, they have lock down drills.
"We can always improve; we do debriefs with the fire department and of course with drills there are always things that can improved, which is why we do these drills," San Mateo County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Daniel Young said.
Teachers know to stay inside the classroom, draw the curtains, drop to the floor, lights out and no talking.
The locks at Taylor Middle School were changed about a year ago, allowing teachers to keep intruders out. The narrow windows on each door are also covered.
The principal of the school admits it's nearly impossible to prepare for something like what happened in Connecticut.
"We do our drills and at times unpredictable things happen and we have no control over it," Lesley Martin said.
Monday, teachers provided needed support for students. But over the weekend, the school district encouraged parents to take the lead.
"They sent out emails talking about being careful what kids will see, be careful what you way to them and they said to make sure you listen to them, discuss it with them," parent Chris Freeman said.