Dear students, staff, parents and community members,
It has been over two days since the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown. I, like you, am still grieving over the senseless loss of beautiful children and dedicated educators. I also know we are still thinking of the families whose lives will never be the same. We will continue to offer our prayers and thoughts for everyone affected by this horrific event.
Hopefully, we are also keenly aware that the incident in Newtown could have happened in any school in Connecticut or America. That realization must guide our efforts moving forward and will require us working and collaborating together.
This afternoon, Assistant Superintendent, Lorraine Rossner and I met with Mayor Lauretti, Police Chief Hurliman, Police Captain Madden, Fire Marshall Tortora and Building Inspector Ballaro to review our existing school safety and emergency plans, existing security measures and to begin planning for assessing our facilities internally and externally relative to access and exit to ensure the safety and security of our students and staff in the future.
The summary points of today’s meeting were reached by consensus and are as follows:
There will be increased Shelton Police Department visibility at our schools on a regular basis this week and in the weeks following our Holiday break. This will include surveillance as well as regular “drop-ins”
Shelton Public Schools will evaluate all of our existing security cameras. We will need to upgrade some if not all. Shelton Police Department will refer a Technical expert in the field to us and we will determine our needs and move forward to upgrade them in the near future.
Our exterior doors and vestibule areas will also need to be re-examined in light of this tragedy and particularly on how access was gained. We will explore possible short term options to address and secure these areas. However, we will need to plan for the total replacement of entryways starting at our elementary buildings. Mayor Lauretti is committed to this and we will move this forward on the city’s Public Improvement Building Committee’s agenda for immediate action.
Fire Marshall Tortora and Building Inspector Ballaro will be conducting facility inspections beginning at our elementary buildings. This will include evaluating the interior classroom doors to determine if upgrades are necessary and ensuring code compliance with any potential replacements to door locks. This will also include possible recommendations for facility upgrades.
We will be working collaboratively with Shelton Police Department to set up Safety and Security workshops at each of our schools in the weeks to come. These sessions will focus on training, emergency procedures, bomb threats, etc.
SPD and Fire Officials will review our existing School Emergency Plans and provide technical assistance regarding any need for updates, etc.
I have also communicated with Principals outlining our expectations in preparations to receive students and staff tomorrow morning when we resume school. These actions will include several points of emphasis including but not limited to:
- All exterior doors and entrances will be locked and secured throughout the day at all entrances and exits.
- Classroom doors will be locked as an added security measure.
- Main Office staff will be exercising much more vigilance regarding who is allowed in the Main Entrance.
- All visitors will be required sign in, sign out and wear badges while they remain in the school building. No exceptions! This also applies to volunteers and includes parents as well.
- Principals will meet with staff prior to school to review all of our Emergency Procedures including Code E, Lockdowns, Evacuations and Shelter in Place, etc. Schools will conduct practice drills as well.
- Principals will be visible in the main lobby and/or outside of the school building as students and buses arrive and depart each day.
- All visitors entering our schools will be escorted to the location they are going to within the school building.
This represents some of the immediate steps that we will take to begin ensuring the safety and security of our children and staff. I ask each and every member of our school community to do their part to enhance the safety and security of our schools, as well.
As always, feel free to contact me directly with any questions or concerns.
Superintendent of Schools