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Local schools reacted to stabbing

It is the news alert school officials find particularly disturbing: an act of violence in a school — and one so close to home.

Lawrence County school officials said their thoughts and prayers are with Portsmouth in the wake of Thursday’s incident at Notre Dame Elementary. And they said they took action early on to make their facilities that little bit safer.

Dawson Bryant Superintendent, Dr. James Payne, said all schools in his district were locked down for a period of time as a precautionary measure.

“These things are always a little unsettling and we wanted to take the steps we did to make sure people knew we were on top of it,” Payne said.

“We wanted to reassure them we were doing what we could to make our buildings a safe heaven for students and staff.”

He added that each school in the district had someone at the door double-checking people who were seeking entry.

The same was true of Ironton City Schools. Superintendent Dean Nance said city schools were on a state of heightened alert because of the situation. Like Dawson-Bryant and other local districts, Ironton officials had taken steps more than a year ago to make buildings more secure, such as locked doors and buzzers that visitors must use before they are granted access.

Nance conceded that even with the safety measures, incidents such as Thursday’s can happen, even with the best of security measures.

“We try to make things as safe as possible, but you never can guarantee 100 percent safety, to safeguard against this,” Nance said.

Payne said he received a call early in the school day from the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office to discuss the shooting and offer any assistance possible, something he said he greatly appreciated.

“This is an unfortunate situation,” Payne said. “I can’t imagine what those little children are going through, what they had to see, it breaks your heart.”

Nance echoed that sentiment.

“This is a very sad day,” he said. “Our prayers go out for the students, the faculty and staff, the family and the community at this time.”