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APS superintendent talks about challenges with keeping all students on high school campuses after shootings

Multiple students were injured after shootings outside Aurora Central High School and Hinkley High School.

AURORA, Colo. — Outside of Hinkley High School and Aurora Central High School, anyone can see there are more police cars and security patrols. Superintendent Rico Munn said what people are not supposed to see are students leaving campus.

"What we've seen are incidences of violence that have happened outside and what we've had are open campuses where kids are allowed to leave," Munn said.

After recent shootings outside Aurora Central and Hinkley leaving multiple students injured and another separate shooting early Sunday morning also involving teenagers, Munn has decided to close campuses for lunch at all seven high schools within Aurora Public Schools temporarily until winter break.

"We want to make sure that we take precautions and not overreact," Munn said. "I think our students and our families understand that."

All students can receive a free lunch which will create a significant increase in demand, Munn said, and a change in overall operations at all the high schools.

"In each building, there's an individualized plan around how they will address some things around school lunches, around making sure that we've got the right supervision across the building," Munn said.

While students are not supposed to leave campus, during lunch and other periods, students were still walking out of the buildings. Leonardo Rodriguez said he left campus at Aurora Central with his friends to enjoy the sunshine.

"I mean for the most part, I get it. But, like we need like time to be outside and we're kids," Leonardo, a junior, said. "Being stuck in school all day is hard."

He said he was questioned by security.

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"They were like asking kids if they had a class or not not or like where we were going or if we were done for the day," Leonardo said. "Kinda had to just lie to get out of school."

When asked about students leaving campus on Monday, Munn said this is just the first day of a major change that will be in place until the start of winter break.

"We're not trying to run prisons. We're not trying to tackle kids. We're trying to make sure they understand the rules just like any other rule in school," Munn said.

Leonardo believes the closed campus will not work.

"Keeping everyone inside, I feel like just like creates more tension between people," Leonardo said.

Munn said he just wants to keep students safe.

"We think that this initial step is a relatively small precaution to put in place that we can then evaluate and figure what next steps are," Munn said.

Munn said students can still leave for the day or leave to attend other programs off-campus. But, Leonardo said students are not happy.

"Annoyed," Leonardo said. "I heard students kept saying, oh well, I'm still going to try to find a way to leave either way and like you can still see kids getting in their cars and leaving. There like really isn’t any point to like trying to keep them in if they know they’re going to leave." 

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