Lenoir City Schools administrators are examining student safety procedures, with the focus on keeping reactions to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting as low key as possible.
City educators said questions about the incident were few Monday morning, but they addressed students on an individual basis as the need arose.
"Unfortunately, a tragedy heightens your awareness a little bit more," Lenoir City Elementary Principal Don Maloney said. "It makes you have conversations about 'just get your antenna a little bit higher' and 'just make sure we are doing every single thing every single day'."
Teachers were prepared with statements depending on the grade level. School counselors were also on hand to talk.
"As the professional psychologist will say in circumstances like this, random acts of violence are very difficult to defend against," Superintendent Wayne Miller said. "One of the best things to do for students and young people is inform them that it's a random act. Those things are no more likely to occur here than they've ever been. They're as safe as anyone knows how to make them.
"Routine is good. Everyone is back in their routine and Christmas programs are happening," he said.
Maloney said he believes his school, with grades pre-K through 3, must try to prepare for the unknown.
"You can't always be 100 percent prepared for everything, but you can make sure you are thinking about those things," Maloney said. "I don't know why they pick malls and schools and movie theaters. I don't know. I can't begin to imagine how you can think like that, but we still have the responsibility to make sure we are doing what we need to be doing every day because we never know. It's like when you get behind the wheel of the car. Do you anticipate the road is going to be slippery?"
Maloney said the school resource officer stayed around a bit longer Monday morning and administrators made their presence known.
Some parents and students asked questions, but Maloney said he expected a bigger reaction.
"I can't remember anything that was a tragedy that occurred outside of the general area that we have ever had big issues with," he said. "I think there were some questions when a couple kids killed themselves at the high school because that hits home, but for some of these kids, Connecticut could be in another country."
Lenoir City Intermediate/Middle School Principal Chip Orr agreed, saying out-of-state situations generally garner less reaction.
"In general, we don't have much of a reaction to when these things happen in some other states. I think kids in their mind they feel invincible anyway," Orr said, expressing confidence in local safety procedures.
"We don't want them concerned. We all know as adults it can happen anywhere, but at the same time we're very confident that the procedures we have in place are good," he said. "We've discussed them and do so regularly with the police department, and they know that our doors stay locked except for the front door. We're confident in our procedures that we don't feel like we need to talk about things like this to create worry in the minds of our kids."
Lenoir City High School Principal Steve Millsaps said he believes the weekend and upcoming holiday toned down emotional reactions to the tragedy.
"I feel like if they see us freaking out they'll freak out too," Millsaps said. "We're trying to have school like any other school day. ... I think in some ways everyone is just hanging on for a couple more days and then head into the Christmas holidays."