School Security a Constant Challenge
Barrington schools constantly review, remind and retrain, according to Superintendent Michael Messore.
None of Barrington’s schools will probably ever be safe from the type of murderous onslaught that killed 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn., last Friday morning.
But that doesn’t mean the administration and staff won’t continue working to make sure the schools are as safe as possible for all emergencies, said Superintendent Michael Messore.
Reviewing, reminding and retraining are the words he used to sum up Barrington’s emergency preparedness.
“I don’t ever want to fall into a false sense of security,” Messore said. “We always need to improve on procedures based on each incident.”
Every emergency should remind “all of us how much more vigilant we need to be,” he said.
All of Barrington’s schools lock the doors and use buzzers and video cameras to identify visitors before they are admitted, he said. In most of the schools, staff can actually see visitors from the office area.
And teachers and staff practice lockdown and evacuation drills and are made familiar with emergency procedures, which are posted on the walls, Messore said.
“We pay particular attention to how the days start and end,” he said.
Arrival and dismissal times are seen as the most critical parts of the day for security. Just about anyone can walk in or out of a school during those time periods.
“So we need to revisit constantly our procedures,” he said.
A Rhode Island State Police officer worked with the schools as recently as October to provide emergency training, Messore said. The drills included an assessment to see how things went.
Key staff members will be meeting with Barrington Police Chief John LaCross on Tuesday to assess existing security procedures, the superintendent said. Some parents have made “appropriate and appreciated responses as well.”
A key effort on Monday in the schools – the first day back after the shooting, was to maintain “an atmosphere of normalcy,” he said. “I think it was smooth.”
There also didn’t appear to be an unusual spike in absences, Messore said.
“It seemed normal. Absences tend to be up during the week before a vacation anyway,” he said. “There didn’t seem to be an unusual number of children out of school.”
Messore also said he appreciated the heightened presence of the police department at the schools. That presence will continue at least up until the vacation week.