After Friday's tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., south county elementary schools are focusing on student safety while honoring the 20 children and six adults who were killed by flying flags at half staff.

After Friday's tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., south county elementary schools are focusing on student safety while honoring the 20 children and six adults who were killed by flying flags at half staff.

"We have lowered our flags in recognition of this senseless tragedy and the innocent lives that were lost," said McCloud Elementary School Superintendent/Principal Shelley Cain, adding that details of the incident were revealed to students "at a level appropriate to their age."

"The primary students have not been told about the shooting," Cain said in a flyer sent home with students Friday afternoon. "We felt that parents may wish to choose whether their little ones should know about what happened or not... Older students were given an opportunity to discuss the shooting and ask questions. All students have been reminded of safety protocol."

"It's so tragic, because we live in a free society and we have not previously wanted to make our schools into prisons," said Butteville Elementary School Superintendent/

Principal Todd Clark. "But because of these tragedies, we're being forced into these areas. I think every community is going to have to decide at what level they want to address this."

Clark said he plans to say a few words about the tragedy at the beginning of the school's winter concert and Christmas play. "We will have a moment of silence and respect," Clark said.

At Weed Elementary School, teachers wore Santa and elf hats on Monday, passed out candy canes and gave students "extra hugs and attention," said principal Alisa Cummings. Though she's usually outside during drop off, Cummings said she is doing a little extra this week to see who drops students off and who picks them up.

In addition, Weed Elementary is beginning to lock all doors by 8:30 a.m. and they will remain locked throughout the day. Visitors will be let in by staff members with keys, and though the first two days of this new plan have been a little chaotic, Cummings said it will soon be second nature.

"It's just one extra step, one more precaution to keep our kids safe," she said.

Dunsmuir Elementary School Principal Barbara Ulbrich said the school had a lockdown drill on Tuesday, and they intend to practice for such emergencies more often than they have in the past.

In addition, DES will be strengthening the safety measures already in place and adding locks and window coverings as well as obtaining walkie talkies for each classroom.

In an automated phone call to all parents and in a flyer sent home with students Monday, Mount Shasta Elementary and Sisson Principal Kale Riccomini said safety "has always been a top priority," and this year, a "comprehensive school safety plan" was approved.

"Each month we practice safety drills with staff and students that include lockdown, fire and earthquake procedures," Riccomini said. "At monthly staff meetings we discuss potential safety issues and develop immediate solutions."

"We have already reviewed safety procedures with students and staff, as well as discussed 'lockdown' and 'intruder' procedures," Cain said about McCloud Elementary. "Sometime next week, we will be practicing these drills to make sure children enter and exit the building safely when necessary."

Castle Rock Elementary Superintendent/Principal Stacie Moore said the school already has a good security system, though tests are being done to ensure it's all in working order.

"We will be having a moment of silence on Friday at 2 p.m.," Moore said, however, because she doesn't want to alarm students unnecessarily, the silence will be in honor of anyone that needs help this holiday season or is experiencing loss.

Clark said a risk factor assessment is being completed at Butteville to identify and address weak areas in safety. He said a fencing project was completed just last week.

During Butteville's Jan. 15 school board meeting, the topic will be on the agenda with a open forum for parental input, Clark added.