NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Niagara Falls City Schools is tightening security in the wake of Tuesday’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas.

The district is requiring parents and anyone else visiting the school to call ahead or make an appointment. This applies to any unscheduled visits to the school.

In the classrooms, teachers are grappling with how to talk to their students about the tragedy.

Michele Walker is a second grade teacher at Maple Avenue Elementary School. She’s been teaching for decades and said the shooting hit close to home.

She said she couldn’t stop thinking about the teachers wrapping their arms around their students to protect them and said every teacher she knows would’ve done the same.

“We have children 30 hours a week we’re responsible for them so we’re like their parents away from their parents and we are obligated to make sure they feel safe, they know they’re safe, and we’ll do anything in the world for them,” Walker said.

She said most of the kids told her they were nervous about returning back to school. She’s had several conversations with them since the tragedy.

“A lot of them said their parents had talked to them before they came back to school. One little girl said her mother told her she said, ‘I know you’re scared but you need to go to school and they’re gonna keep you safe, your teacher will keep you safe, you’ll be fine and I’ll see you after school.'”

Walker has never taken her responsibility to her students and their families for granted.

She said all teachers in the district practice lockdown drills and the children know exactly what to do.

Walker is retiring after this year and she only has 20 more days of school.

Her advice for new teachers is to make sure their students know they love them and be mindful that the community’s children are in their hands.

She said we move forward by reassuring the children the adults will make sure they’re okay.

“We love and care for them. We’re not just teaching them but we’re making sure they’re well rounded kids.”

She said being the teacher is the greatest job in the world and it’s been her honor to serve the students in this district.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.