Schools around Boston focusing on security

Address concerns related to shooting

Schools in and around Boston prepared to step up security, reassure parents and students, and offer counseling and support as students return to class Monday for the first time since the shootings in Connecticut.

Officials in Medford, Natick, and Boston said they would increase security immediately, and several schools said they would review their procedures.

Natick school officials assured parents that a security plan is already in place, but Natick school Superintendent Peter Sanchioni noted one change in an e-mail Friday.

"Starting Monday, the front door of all of our schools will be locked and staffed,'' he said.

In Medford, Roy E. Belson, the superintendent of schools, notified parents that additional police and school security personnel would be on hand Monday. He said Medford would also "begin an upgrade of all our security cameras and electronic entry systems.''


"We believe that these enhanced measures can be accomplished without compromising a conducive learning environment and a desirable school climate," Belson wrote. "However, of necessity, these actions will make it less convenient for entry and visitation to our school sites."

In Cambridge, the school superintendent, Jeffrey Young, said in a prepared statement posted on the school district website that all principals will meet with staff prior to the start of school on Monday to prepare teachers to meet with their students, and share ideas and strategies for appropriate responses to questions children might ask in school this week.

Young said district protocols call for exterior building doors to be locked. Lockdown exercises have already been in place, and during the current school year each class had an emergency procedures booklet. But the superintendent said that the school district still needs the community's help.

"We must heighten our awareness of situations that seem out of the ordinary and be active in reporting them to authorities," Young said.


In Boston, police Commissioner Ed Davis said Friday that he would increase police patrols around Boston schools.

In an e-mail to parents Sunday, Arlington's school superintendent, Kathleen Bodie, said that counselors would be available at each school throughout the week. Bodie said the message to students will be that "they are in a safe environment with people who care about them very much and who are responsible for keeping their environment safe."

Police officers will be driving near Arlington schools during the day, Bodie said, but there will not be a police presence at each school all day. The superintendent said officials thought a police presence could cause more anxiety rather than alleviate it.

Thomas S. Kingston, the interim superintendent of schools in Belmont, said there was "increased concern and regard" for school security.

Beverly's superintendent, Marie E. Galinski, said officials will review all safety procedures with staff on Monday.

Framingham's superintendent, Stacy Scott, said schools there are prepared for questions from students.

"Counselors and support staff will be in available in every school on Monday morning," Scott said in a message posted on the school website. "School teams will review and reinforce safety protocols that are already in place in our school buildings.''

In Needham, superintendent Dan Gutekanst sent an e-mail to parents Friday assuring them that teachers would be ready for students' questions when they returned Monday. Officials say they want the day to be as normal as possible.

"Each teacher will receive information and a script about what to do and/or say in the event a student raises a concern or questions about the tragedy,'' Gutekanst wrote.


In Lexington, Paul Ash, the school superintendent, said in a statement posted on the school district website that principals, school psychologists, guidance counselors, and others would be available Monday and throughout the week.

Principals at Newton South High and Newton North High e-mailed assurances to parents and students that security procedures were in place and offered tips on how to handle questions about the tragedy.

Globe correspondents Brock Parker and Jarret Bencks contributed to this report.
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