EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – In light of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. , on Friday, the Eastchester school district is reviewing its safety procedures and offering counseling for students who wish to talk about the incident.
The district’s safety plans were created in 2001 as part of the New York State Schools Against Violence in Education legislation. The emergency response plans have been developed with local agencies and are designed to handle emergencies in a quick and effective manner.
Superintendent of Schools Marilyn C. Terranova said Eastchester police officers are trained to deal with crisis situations, and the department has floor plans for each building and is familiar with school layouts.
“The district’s comprehensive approach to school safety includes a balance of education, effective prevention, intervention, discipline, security and crisis prevention preparedness,” she said. “The safety of our students and staff is paramount.”
All Eastchester schools have an increased police presence this week, and the school district is reviewing safety policies to make sure that each school is adhering to the rules.
Schools all have a designated single point of entry for visitors, and visitors must identify themselves and the intent of their visit. Once inside, guests have to sign in at the front desk and wear an identification badge. Parents looking to visit the school should provide written notice.
Doors to the elementary schools are locked at all times. There is a single unlocked door on the high school campus for use by students and staff. The district is looking into the feasibility of locking that door and requiring everyone to be admitted by the monitor. Each school also has multiple surveillance cameras inside and outside.
“Each building is reviewing protocols to ensure that they are functional and being properly carried out,” Terranova said. “There may be additional staff members assigned to the front door to assist during this week because of the many holidays that are taking place.”
Terranova added that the close relationships the district shares with town and emergency officials such as the Eastchester Volunteer Ambulance Corps will help keep children safe.
“Central to this plan is the key insight that keeping children safe is a communitywide event,” she said. “Our relationships with students, parents, police, fire, EVAC and government agencies make our plan an effective one. Our faculty’s common goal – to create an environment where students feel safe and connected – assists us in this effort.”