While the scare at the Montgomery County high school was unusual, the unease that sparked it wasn't. Students returned to schools in the region Monday to find new or reinforced security measures in place in the wake of Friday's carnage at a Connecticut elementary school, where a man gunned down 20 children and six adults before killing himself.
Police patrolled some schools, mostly to provide reassurance to skittish students and parents, educators said. Schools brought in counselors to talk with students or held brief assemblies or informal classroom chats.
"Every day, the principal greets each child warmly at the front doors. Today, each child got an extra long hug from her," said Sudi Southall, the mother of a first-grader and fourth-grader from Pennington, N.J.
Many schools sent home reminders about locked doors and visitors' policies or even restricted access further.
"Previously, they would just buzz you in because they have a visual of you at the door, and wave you to wherever you need to go. Now they're actually intercomming and verifying who are who you are, even though they know me, and you actually have to sign in," said Filomena Sannes, a mother of two from Broomall whose 7-year-old son attends Russell Elementary in the Marple-Newtown School District.
Some parents found such changes futile, albeit understandable.
"It is really not an issue of school safety - how could anyone prevent someone from blasting (their way into a) school? It is a school after all, not a prison," Southall said. "I think that the issue is a gun issue, and it makes me mad that parents and citizens of this great country cannot unite and change the laws that are so flawed."
Brynn Warminsky of Narberth couldn't help but wonder about the possibility of copycats.
"I'm never that person who's so freaked out or anxious, but I was playing with the idea of: 'Do I really want to send him to school today?'" said Warminsky, whose 6-year-old son attends kindergarten at Merion Elementary School.