Increased Security at Utica Schools May be New Normal
Heightened security measures implemented by Utica Community Schools following the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting are expected to remain in place through early 2013.
Three weeks, including a holiday break, have passed in Utica Community Schools since the school shooting in Newtown, CT, but security remains at an all-time high throughout the district.
Utica, like countless districts across the state and country, heightened its security in the days following the shooting. Those measures are due to remain in place until further notice, wrote UCS Superintendent Dr. Christine M. Johns in a Dec. 21 letter to parents.
Indeed, as students and staff returned to school this week following the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, security remained visibly heightened.
“Eisenhower security is still enforced to a great amount,” wrote Ike student Lorenzo Santavicca on Shelby-Utica’s Facebook page. “From being greeted by our Principal and other staff members at the front door walking in each morning, to having a monitor in the hallways or in our commons, our school has kept the implementation of security a priority, among the goal of a great education.”
Parents whose children attend other Utica schools echoed Santavicca's observations.
"At Monfort all the classroom doors are locked now," wrote Lisa Frederick Rabine on Patch's Facebook page. "At Shelby Jr. High I have seen a cop or two in the parking lot in the morning. All the outside doors are locked with a check-in desk located at the main entrance."
The following security measures, implemented prior to the holiday break, are due to remain in place for the time being:
- Main entrances (front doors) at elementary and junior high schools will be locked throughout the day. At the high schools security cameras and staff members will monitor the front entrances.
- Anyone requesting to go beyond the office must show photo identification and have a confirmed purpose.
- Local police will increase their presence in school parking lots and adjacent areas.
These are in addition to the security measures maintained prior to the tragedy, which include:
- All outside visitors are required to check in at the office.
- All classrooms are equipped with telephones.
- With the exception of front entrances, all exterior doors and windows at the schools are kept locked during the day. As part of this routine, entrances and windows are checked throughout the day and evening.
- The UCS security team works with the staff at every school to conduct two security drills each school year. All buildings completed one drill in the fall. Reviews of these drills are used to revised and refine district security practices.
Johns said security procedures are regularly reviewed with UCS security and local law enforcement to ensure the safety of the district’s 29,000 students.
What security measures should districts implement on a permanent basis?