Teachers and staff throughout the Westfield public school district strove to create as normal an environment as possible on the first day back in the classroom since Friday's deadly shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Superintendent of the Westfield Public Schools, Dr. Margaret Dolan, or members of her central staff, completed visits to each and every one of the 10 schools in the district today, Monday, Dec. 17, meeting with every principal and walking through every school, according to Westfield schools spokesperson Lorre Korecky.
Additionally, counselors have been at every school to provide support and information to help teachers and students. The school district’s Emergency Management Team, which meets monthly, convened just prior to Friday, Dec. 14 and planned for security audits at every building. Dolan stressed that the team takes all safety precautions "very seriously." Further, Dolan has asked Westfield Police Chief David Wayman to come in and meet with school principals once again.
"We work very closely with law enforcement and they are very responsive and cooperative," Dolan noted. "They have come and worked with and trained our principals. The police also use our buildings to conduct their own trainings so that they are familiar with them. Extensive training has been conducted by our local police and at the county level for our principals and administrators, who work with the Crisis Teams in each school. Our nurses also have participated in specific training regarding crisis management."
Members of the Westfield police and fire departments have overseen school drills and have previously provided suggestions for improving protocols, which have been implemented, noted Korecky, who added that schools have a doorway camera with a two-way intercom and visitors have to be “buzzed in” for the door to open. Once inside, visitors are asked to register at the desk and wear visitor tags, which school district staff is required to wear.
"We will work with staff on remaining alert and aware of potential problems," Dolan stated. "Our students are working in their classrooms and seem to be doing well. As one of our principals wrote in a letter to his staff this morning, 'I cannot stress enough that we must, as educators and parents, move forward and instill a sense of ‘normalcy’ back in our lives even though ‘business as usual’ takes on a more vigilant focus.' Another principal wrote, 'We are conducting business as usual today to provide the routine which will make children feel safe.'”