Woodbridge implements tighter school security
WOODBRIDGE — School administrators in Woodbridge have modified and strengthened existing safety and security policies and procedures after the horrifying events in Newtown last month.
One major change is the assignment of a Woodbridge Police Officer, Vincent Lynch, as a permanent full-time Community Officer at Beecher Road School. Another major change is the elimination of the pass/swipe system at the school’s entrance that formerly allowed parents to enter the building without being buzzed in.
In a statement to Beecher Road School families in December, Superintendent Gaeton “Guy” Stella said, “One of the qualities I love most about BRS is that it is a community school. There are programs, activities, new opportunities for learning, wellness and community gatherings that occur on an almost 24/7 basis. BRS is the embodiment of community. However, the events of the past week have provided a new reality to consider.”
The “new reality” requires tighter security in order to promote successful learning experiences for children in a safe and orderly school environment. Two of the most compelling reasons for changing the pass/swipe system at this time are: The Woodbridge Police Department has strongly advised it and the school wants to be aware every time someone enters. The current system does not allow for that to happen. Therefore, all parents and visitors will need to be buzzed into school by the office staff after they have been viewed on camera and have stated their name and reason for coming into the school. After entering, they report directly to the main office to sign in and get a visible visitor’s pass.
Dr. Stella further stated, “Beecher Road School has a history of welcoming parents and friends into our school. That will not change. The process needed to enter the building is simply being refined.”
In addition to the above two changes made immediately following the Newtown tragedy, that is the assignment of the Community Police Officer and the change in entrance procedures, school administrators have implemented or are about to implement additional measures. These include direct radio connections to the Woodbridge Police Department, building perimeter checks throughout the day, the installation of video surveillance cameras in key areas inside and outside the school, and additional steps of a confidential nature designed to enhance security.
An existing school safety manual has been developed through the years with the School Safety Committee with input from the Woodbridge Police and Fire Departments. The manual contains protocols to deal with specific emergency issues in the unlikely event they arise. “That manual will be revised as modifications are put in place,” stated Dr. Stella.