Nearly one month after the Connecticut school shooting, several local districts have put new security measures in place, including locked front doors and tighter visitor sign-in policies, and launched reviews of their safety procedures.
Area officials say they have been working closely with local police departments and staff members to come up with the best policies to protect students and teachers in the wake of the Dec. 14 tragedy in which 20 children and six adults were killed.
“We’re taking it seriously, but we’re mindful of the human factor and not increasing the anxiety of our students,’’ said Weston Superintendent Cheryl Maloney.
In Weston, all school doors were previously locked except front doors. Maloney said those doors are now locked but the district has yet to install buzzers or cameras. Members of the office staff, she said, are responsible for answering the door until a new system can be installed.
Natick has also started locking the front doors at its schools, while Newton, Sudbury, and the Ayer-Shirley Regional district have plans in the works. Acton is studying the option. Needham has completed an upgrade of security at the town’s schools that includes a buzzer and surveillance system and locked front doors,
In Weston, Maloney said there has been mixed reaction among parents to the changes. “They preferred the more welcoming front door,’’ she said.
Maloney said the district is considering a swipe-card system for the doors, but it will take time to go through the bidding process to buy the equipment and have it installed. “We will continue with that plan and may accelerate it,’’ she said.
Maloney said the district is also looking at hiring a consultant to review its practices and see whether any additional changes are necessary. She said they have been more vigilant about visitor passes, and having parents wait in the lobby for students.
Natick Superintendent Peter Sanchioni said that before the Newtown shooting, just one of the district’s eight schools had a camera and buzzer system. During the winter break, locks and buzzers were installed at all schools, he said.