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Safety improvements needed at all schools

by Larry S. Chowning

After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 first-graders and six adult staff members were gunned down on December 14, 2012, Middlesex County school officials have reviewed the safety of county schools.

On January 22, a team of county, school and law enforcement personnel met to review student and staff safety at each school building, reported Middlesex school superintendent Dr. Thomas Taylor on Monday night at the school board’s regular monthly meeting.

The report lists an “urgent item” that needs to be addressed immediately at all three county schools—all should have a double entrance foyer and each entrance should be equipped with closed circuit television with viewing and buzz-in capacity from the main office.

The report states that “this is the safest entry process possible and it will generate a cost savings by not having personnel at the main entrance” during school hours.

The “needed items” in the report were that all exterior doors at all schools, the school board office and Kidd Building be equipped with an electronic passkey entrance. “The current key system is somewhat antiquated and is cumbersome,” the report states. “In the event of a hostile scenario, the current key system is not as safe as a passkey. Electronic control and the monitoring of building entrances by passkey holders is the safest way to control building access.”

The report states cameras on the exterior perimeter of school sites need to be upgraded. Currently, there are safety blind spots outside of the buildings.

Interior cameras also need to be installed at MES. “Presently, there are no cameras at the elementary school, and cameras would always record incidents that need to be recorded as an aide in prosecution,” the report states. “This also allows staff to be proactive for incidents as they are occurring.”

The report also states there needs to be an upgrading of alarm systems installed at MHS, the school board office and Kidd Building. There also needs to be web access to camera systems at MES, SCW and MHS. “Presently, our system is viewed on the network, and this would allow for mobile security and risk management for each building.”

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 02.13.2013

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