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Daily Pilot

District reacts to Connecticut school killings

An automated phone message went out Friday afternoon to reassure parents that schools have emergency plans.

By Jeremiah Dobruck

9:02 PM PST, December 14, 2012

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Education officials on Friday sent out an emergency notification to parents in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District in the hopes of reassuring them on the day a gunman reportedly killed 28 people — including himself, 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Conn.

About 4:30 p.m., the district started using its automated calling system to send a recorded message from Supt. Fred Navarro.

"The shooting incident … today is a senseless and horrific tragedy that will rightfully raise concerns in communities around the world about school safety," Navarro said in the recording. "…While no level of planning can truly prepare us for this kind of an incident, know that we are forever dedicated toward the safety of our children and staff."

By 5 p.m., about 3,000 Newport-Mesa parents had been reached, spokeswoman Laura Boss said.

The statement, also posted online, explains that each school site has an emergency plan and visitor protocols in place. Families would be notified through the call system, email and online in the event of an emergency.

Students in Newport-Mesa also train for the possibility of a gunman on campus.

"Unfortunately, in the time we live in, our schools for the past several years have been having to practice lockdowns and intruder alerts," Boss said.

Newport Beach and Costa Mesa police made an effort to be more visible in and around school campuses Friday, and Boss said that will continue to next week.

Principals and school psychologists will also be available for parents or students who want to talk.

Individual schools have protocols for emergencies on campus, including where parents can pick up their children and ways to receive information. Boss encouraged parents to contact their children's principals if they have questions.

"From this distance away, obviously we're grateful this didn't happen in Newport-Mesa, but we are taking every step we possibly could to review our protocol," she said.

jeremiah.dobruck2@latimes.com

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck