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Task Force To Re-Examine School Security Protocols

During its Dec. 18 meeting, the Bedford School Committee addressed how the Newtown tragedy will affect Bedford's schools.

 

Tuesday night's School Committee meeting started with a moment of silence in rememberance of the 27 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. last week.

In response to the tragedy, Superintendent Jon Sills announced a task force charged with re-examening Bedford's current security protocols at the four schools in town.

The task force, which will include parents of Bedford students from each school, will have its first meeting on Jan. 7 and present its recommendations to Sills on Feb. 14. 

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Sills outlined the protocols currently in place to address emergencies at Bedford schools, including lockdown drills completed at all four Bedford schools annually.

Sills said while infrastructure is in place in Bedford to deal with different kinds of emergency situations -- such as the district crisis team, which includes members of the Bedford Police Department, Bedford Fire Department and Youth and Family Services -- a tragedy such as the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary makes school officials reexamine these protocols. 

"These are frightening times," Sills said. "Bedford, like every other district in the nation is looking at itself once again." 

The School Department issued a survey in recent years which asked parents of Bedford students whether or not they would support different security measures at schools including badges for school staff, security cameras and locked front doors at each school with a buzzer system to gain entry, according to Sills. 

The results of the survey led school officials to decide that school staff would wear badges, but that the front doors of each school would not be locked during school hours. 

"Then Friday happened and of course we need to stop and reflect on what if anything we need to do differently," Sills said. 

In a joint effort between school officials and BPD Chief Robert Bongiorno, there have been increased police patrols at Bedford schools this week.

"There hasn't been an overt presence so as not to alarm younger kids," Sills said. 

Throughout this week, parents involved with the Bedford Elementary Schools Together have been stationed at the front door of Davis Elementary School and Lane Elementary School to open the front door to the buildings during school hours

"We wanted a people friendly presence and a measured response that would enable us to the lock the door initially," Sills said. 

Sills said faculty at each of Bedford's four schools was instructed to address the tragedy in Newtown in a different way, according to Sills. 

At Davis, where Bedford's youngest students attend, nothing was brought up regarding the shooting. Faculty at Lane were instructed not to start conversation about the shooting, but if a student brought it up, they were instructed to respond.

According to Sills, the faculty at Lane reported that in approximately 75 percent of classrooms, students initiated discussion with their teacher about the Newtown shooting. 

At John Glenn Middle School and Bedford High School the respective principals addressed the entire student body. 

Joe Piantedosi December 22, 2012 at 03:39 PM
The open door policy is dangerous and very risky to students and staff. All school doors should be locked whenever students are in session. Every school district I am aware of does this except Bedford.

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