Many New Zealand schools will be reviewing their emergency procedures after the deadliest-ever armed school attack in United States history, a local principal says.
"I think most schools will revisit their lockdown procedure," Brookfield Primary School principal Robert Hyndman said.
"It also makes you glad that we live in a culture where firearms aren't quite so readily available."
Twenty children and six teachers were gunned down last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Shooter Adam Lanza, 20, entered the school on Friday morning (local time) armed with a rifle and two semi-automatic pistols. Among his victims were eight boys and 12 girls - all aged 6 and 7. He eventually turned a weapon on himself.
Mr Hyndman, who is also president of the Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association, is considering running a lockdown drill at his own school when students return next year.
"I've been a bit reluctant [to run drills]. We've had kids making up stories about men down in the bush ... and I haven't wanted to stir that up.
"This makes you rethink that a wee bit and I think next year we will have lockdown drills," he said.
Just two weeks ago, Matua School went into lockdown on police request.
Officers and dog units searched the school and a nearby house on Levers Road. Reports indicated a burglar had escaped through the school grounds.
In the aftermath of the US tragedy, the New Zealand Secondary Principals' Association warns that local schools need to prepare for a worst-case scenario here.
"I hope that [a school shooting] would never happen but I think we have to be realistic and expect that it probably will and make sure that we do have best placed measures to prevent that from happening," association president Patrick Walsh said.
All schools should have an emergency plan in place to deal with an armed intruder incident, he said.
"Most schools now have developed a comprehensive lockdown procedure in their schools."
When this happens, all classrooms are locked. Students and teachers hide under their desks or huddle in a corner. The school intercom system is turned on and no one is allowed to leave their classroom until police present themselves at the door.
"Some schools have developed [it] to the point where they now give their building plan to police," Mr Walsh said.
"So if there's an armed intruder in the school, the police already have a plan of the whole school."
School building plans held by the Education Ministry could also be accessed by police in emergency situations, he said.
"I hope we don't get to the point that they have in the United States where you have to hire security guards outside the school and big gates and you check people coming in and out and metal detectors.
"[But], that's the way the Western world is trending and I just think that's a sad indictment on society."
Police have previously said an armed "shooter" incident was a matter of when, not if, at a New Zealand school - be it a deranged student or angry parent.
In a statement yesterday, they said: "Police continue to work with individual schools and the Ministry of Education to provide advice and support on a range of emergency management issues, including potential armed offender incidents."
Police refused to discuss specific plans for "safety and security reasons".
An Education Ministry spokesman said schools were encouraged to work with "expert agencies" like the police to develop contingency plans for threatening situations like armed offender incidents.
Attackers in our schools
2009: 17-year-old student at Auckland's Avondale College stabbed a Japanese teacher in front of 20 students.
2010: 13-year-old boy at Te Puke High School stabbed a maths teacher in the neck and shoulder.
2010: 15-year-old Hamilton Girls' High School student brought a knife to school and threatened to kill students.
2012: Upper Hutt school principal was assaulted by a 39-year-old male in his office.