Security Up at Schools After Tragedy at Sandy Hook

December 17, 2012 Updated Dec 17, 2012 at 7:52 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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December 17, 2012 Updated Dec 17, 2012 at 7:52 PM EDT

Williamsville, NY (WKBW) - School remains cancelled today in Newtown, Connecticut, while that community tries to come to grips with Friday's horrific turn of events.

Monday was a different type of back to school than many are used to -- parents hugging their kids goodbye a little tighter, days after a gunman killed 20 students at a Connecticut elementary school.

This week, schools across the country, including in Western New York, just want families to feel safe again.

Sending a child off to school used to be so normal for families across America. Now, it's harder.

Cheryl Speier, whose daughter goes to school in Williamsville, says "I know my daughter is very upset -- last night she wanted me to sleep with her."

Parents now have conversations that seem unreal with their children. Speier's daughter asked her "If you were in the middle of the confusion, what would you have done?" Her response -- "I thought of laying down and pretend you were dead."

That's exactly what one little girl at Sandy Hook Elementary School did -- becoming the sole survivor of her first grade class.

However, in Western New York, school districts want their kids to feel safe, and make sure they deter any potential copycats.

In Williamsville, Amherst and Buffalo, students saw a police presence as parents dropped-off and picked-up children. Even more personnel were on hand at entry points to the schools.

Many plans say they feel better about letting their little ones go, as school districts plan to beef up security through the week.

The Superintendent of Williamsville Central School District, Dr. Scott Martzloff, says "There will be an extra sense of vigilence -- adult presence if you will -- at all of our schools throughout the day."

Dawn Johnson, whose grandchildren go to school in Williamsville, says "The police presence is certainly a good thing ... I think they'll feel a little safer. I think they'll be okay."

Parents now forced to talk to students about safety.

Kathleen Farinacci, who has a daughter in Kindergarten, says "I plan to tell her that her school is taking extra measures to make sure she's safe."

Educators are doing the same thing.

Notices across Western New York went out to parents over the weekend, offering psychologists and social workers to talk to students.

Some principals are even going class to class, hoping to bring back the feeling that school is a safe place.