Dear parents, colleagues, and community members,
We are all deeply saddened and pained by the horrific tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, educators and community members who have suffered unimaginable loss through senseless violence.
This weekend I have met with our Mayor, Police Chief, and other school and community officials to review the safety procedures and safeguards in our own Medford Schools. While our assessment is that our schools are safe, we have decided to take additional action steps to increase coverage and strengthen rules that will add an extra dimension to our security at all school buildings. We believe that these enhanced measures can be accomplished without compromising a conducive learning environment and a desirable school climate. However, of necessity, these actions will make it less convenient for entry and visitation to our school sites. I feel confident that you understand and that we will have your full cooperation.
Please note the following multi-step approach:
- There will be both uniformed and plain clothes police officers stationed at all school buildings.
- Additional school staff will be assigned to security watch at school buildings throughout the day.
- Entry to the schools will only be through the main door, which will be supervised. All other doors will be locked for outside entry. Use of any other door for entry will be supervised.
- Visitation by non-essential vendors and others will be suspended
- All safety and security protocols will be reviewed with faculty and staff.
- Our regional mutual aid system (STARS) will be on alert for intervention as may be required.
- Our weekly meetings with police and District Attorney staff will continue to focus on community situations that might impact our schools.
- Traffic Supervisors around the schools will ensure that vehicle and pedestrian traffic respect school zone rules. All must obey the directions of these public safety officials.
- We will communicate with the public on all such matters through our web site, cable tv, and reverse 911 systems. Please refer to these channels for updated information.
- Counseling services will be available as needed.
- We will begin an upgrade of all our security cameras and electronic entry systems.
These measures will be in place throughout December and into January. We will re-evaluate our conditions as we assess the situations at each building and in the community/region.
We ask our parents to limit the amount of media exposure of young children to the Connecticut tragedy. Young children are negatively impacted by multiple viewings of scary events. Do not dwell on this or other such incidents. Answer their questions, but don’t give more information than is necessary. Assure them that their schools are safe and that they will be well cared for by teachers and staff. If your child is deeply troubled then seek professional assistance. With older children it is advisable to turn their questions into teachable moments. It is important to learn what their friends think and to maximize empathy for those affected by violence. Don’t dwell on the details of the events. Seek professional help if warranted by a continuing obsession with the events.
We are all in this together and we can help our young children and youth best by being aware and reassuring. There are many good news items to celebrate in our lives and we cannot allow ourselves to only see the bad. We must encourage our families to move on and to overcome this tragedy. Each of us must do our part to promote the best possible for our children and community.
Thank you for your understanding and support.
– Roy E Belson, Superintendent of Schools