By KAITLYN NAPLES
Many in the state are still grieving after 26 adults and children were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly one month ago. Bristol school officials and the city are continuing to make headway into enhancing the security measures already in place, and looking for more suggestions and ideas to continue to keep the children, staff, and faculty safe in each school in the city.
At last week’s Board of Education meeting Superintendent of Schools Ellen Solek said there is still a continuance of police surveillance at the schools in Bristol. She reviewed what was discussed at a school safety workshop held a few weeks ago for parents, and school staff and officials to learn about what is already in place at each school in the district, and what will happen to increase the safety and security of all of the schools.
“There is a need for wisdom and knowledge” in each building regarding safety and security, Solek said last week.
She said Greg Boulanger, an administrator for the Board of Education, will be the District Safety and Security Coordinator in Bristol, who will coordinate safety and security efforts in all of the schools in Bristol and look at what needs to be updated.
There also will be a formation of a City-wide School Safety and Security Task Force, made up of city and school officials, police and fire officials, Board of Education members, district leaders, educators, school staff, and parent and community members who will make up the task force. Board commissioner Karen Vibert added she believes some of the school secretaries should be included on the task force since they are the ones who answer doors and phones at each building.
This week, two workshops were held regarding safety in schools. One was a day-long school safety symposium held at the Aqua Turf in Southington for district and board of education members. Another was held for district leadership and the police chief for regional school safety planning. Solek said any and all recommendations from each workshop will be presented to the task force, which is expected to have its first meeting next week.
The task force will look at needs at each school, like cameras, communication, drills of all kinds, and more. It will also focus on social services and support in schools for the students and staff, and also school climate, like mentoring and advisory programs, and state and federal recommendations.
Currently, not only does the district take physical action to keep students safe, but there are also other initiatives in place to make sure students are safe emotionally and socially. Every school takes part in a Positive Behavior Intervention Support plan to create positive school environments. There are also counseling outlets, advisory and mentoring programs and classroom management to teach students how to positively interact with one another.
Each school also practices lock-down and evacuation drills on a regular basis so that students, teachers and staff are aware of where they need to go and what they need to do incase of an emergency. There are three resource officers available to the district, one at each high school, and another who is available for all of the other schools. Each school has surveillance that monitors the property, as well as a buzzer system at the entrance of the building that requires someone in the main office to allow that person in. Then, that person is required to go straight to the main office to check-in.
However, it is the district and city’s mission to make sure these current practices are enhanced to ensure nothing like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School happens in Bristol.
For updates on school safety, visit the Bristol Public School’s website at http://www.bristol.k12.ct.us/.
By KAITLYN NAPLES