I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the progress we have made, and expect to make, in the ensuing months.
Three well-attended School Safety Forums were held in December during which a great deal of information was shared and input received from community members. The administrative team and school staff have devoted a great deal of time and effort in the last several months to developing a plan and procedure for making our schools a safer place for our students and staff.
The following steps have been taken thus far:
· A COPS Grant was written and received in order to address school safety matters
· A Vulnerability Assessment (by Safe Havens, Inc.) has been completed on each of our school buildings
· Three Public Safety Forums were conducted in December
· Knox Box’s have been installed in each of our schools
· An INTELLIKEY system is now being used for the locks on school doors
· Interior door locks were installed in our schools classrooms
· Signs have been added to school doors, directing visitors to sign in
· Staff lock down drills have been held at YHS/HMS, others to follow
· Administrative Team has met a number of times with Chief Morrill (Yarmouth Police Department)
· School secretaries have attended a meeting with Chief Morrill
· Police officers are more visible in schools (lunch with students)
· All schools have one or two emergency evacuation kits (“Go Bags”)
· “Power Announcement” Program is being explored in order to have enhanced communication with parents
· Training sessions for school secretaries have been held and others are being planned
· Most exterior doors are now locked during the school day
· A State Homeland Security grant for $6.500 has been written and received for the purchase of safety equipment
In the upcoming months, with the support of our School Committee, we plan to implement the following for our schools:
· Emergency Management Plans are being updated for all schools
· Lock Down drills will be planned/practiced in each school
· Panic buttons will be installed
· A remote Entry Control System will be installed on main entrance doors
· Exterior cameras will be installed in some school parking lots and/or entrances
· Numbering will be added to exterior school doors
· A Lanyard system for identification of staff and visitors will be initiated
· Two-way radios will be put into place for use by administrators
· Additional staff training is being planned
Our school community is deeply saddened by recent events and the tragic loss of lives in Newtown, Connecticut. It is our desire to have our children feel safe and secure in our school buildings. This recent event, and others, is a sobering reminder that terrible things can happen anywhere.
Please know that we do not take these actions lightly, and we know for some this will represent a cultural change. It is our hope that our great community will work to implement these changes in a reasonable and thoughtful manner, and that our students, staff and parents will realize a safe school environment, while maintaining our positive school climate.
My sincere appreciation to Chief Mike Morrill and the Yarmouth Police Department for their excellent advice and cooperation throughout this process. The School Committee, administration, staff, students and the entire school community have provided valuable ideas, input and support.
Ron Barker, Interim Superintendent