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Doors Locked, Monitors on Duty in Sudbury Elementary Schools

December’s fatal shootings of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut prompt security changes in Sudbury.

Sudbury’s elementary schools began locking their front doors on Monday, the one-month anniversary of the horrific school massacre in Newtown, Conn., which prompted schools across the country to review safety procedures in the hopes of preventing a similar tragedy.

At the Jan. 16 meeting of the Sudbury Public Schools Committee, Superintendent Anne Wilson said temporary door attendants have been monitoring the front doors this week and will continue to do so until new doors are installed. Those new doors will include features such as video cameras and a buzzer system, she said.

Officials said the cost for installing the new doors has been estimated at less than $100,000. The new doors should be in place by March, they said.

“We feel good about the progress we’re made so far, and look forward to learning more,” Wilson said about ongoing efforts to enhance safety in Sudbury’s schools. 

She said additional safety measures include the hiring of a consultant who will review Sudbury’s overall system and make recommendations for improvement.  She said she and a few other school officials will attend a safety conference on Jan. 28 presented by the Superintendents Association.

“And, we will continue to work in partnership with the Sudbury Police Department,” Wilson said. 

At previous school committee meetings, officials advised that they could not reveal too much about Sudbury’s security procedures in order not to unknowingly assist someone who may be looking for a way to circumvent those procedures.

Elementary schools across the country scrambled to improve their safety procedures after a gunman on a rampage killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14. The front doors to Sandy Hook were locked at the time, and

Jim Parinella January 18, 2013 at 04:03 PM
So we're spending $100K on something that wouldn't have prevented Sandy Hook. This is TSA all over again. We're spending billions of dollars in this country for nominal improvements in health and safety. Surely there must be a dozen other things we could do for $100K that would do more for safety. Even getting rid of travel sports for grade school kids would result in a greater reduction in expected fatalities than this. Let's not let our love for our kids lead to hysterical overreaction.
M January 18, 2013 at 04:28 PM
I believe this money was donated by a town resident. Plus, we should always do whatever we can to protect our kids. There are more reasons for this type of security upgrade than just stopping someone with a gun. This is not a hysterical overreaction.
siobhan hullinger January 18, 2013 at 04:44 PM
There is very little, if anything, that could have been done to prevent Sandy Hook, unfortunately. The money is coming from an anonymous donor for the purpose of installing and improving safety in our middle and elementary buildings. I don't feel as though this is an overreaction but do feel that prudent spending should always be the focus no matter where the money comes from. In my opinion, the doors should be locked and most of our schools have limited to no visibility to the exterior doors from the front office so cameras and buzzers are needed. This is only for the SPS schools, not the high school.
Jim Parinella January 18, 2013 at 04:47 PM
I would just like to see more of a cost/benefit analysis in these decisions rather than a knee-jerk "if it saves only one life, it's worth it".
Chuck Sudbury January 18, 2013 at 05:31 PM
It's wonderful that someone donated $100K to help keep our kids safe -- a big thank you to that kind soul. It's also great that the school system is being very proactive with the new doors/security measures. Those should help to some extent. But I feel that we also should have at least two armed security guards at each school, who would be able to stop an armed intruder with a taser or something more powerful. Even better, offer these jobs to our recent veterans who have returned home and can't find work. Put it in the budget -- and parents will pay for it.
Publius January 18, 2013 at 06:51 PM
Since you believe that we should do whatever we can to protect our kids, would you agree that we should ban youth tackle football, baseball and hockey until we can guarantee no concussions, commotio cordis (sudden impact to heart by a baseball,etc). Should we raise the driving age to 19, where accident rates have stabilized? I appreciate the concern, but the reality is that the world is full of risks. The best thing we can do for our children is to teach them to be safe, aware and have an appreciation for the risks and dangers around them. Every time my child leaves the house, I feel parental worry. But there has to be a limit to the steps that we as parents take.
siobhan hullinger January 18, 2013 at 07:16 PM
I agree Publius but we are talking about controlling who goes in and out of the schools. We aren't talking putting them in a bubble which would serve no one as they age and become unaware adults. It's a security door with protocols... As for the youth tackle football - that discussion is happening right now across the country from sports affiliations, concussion study groups, sports medicine researchers et al. The high school is open campus so this is only in the elementary and middle school level. I don't think armed - whether it be stun gun or not - is rational at this time but a locked door that requires permission for entry is a reasonable safety measure in my mind. It won't prevent a Sandy Hook and I have yet to hear a scenario that would. We can't safeguard against the unique but we can make things safer. Once the kids are outside the schools, it is up to parents to teach safety measures and allow them to learn and be aware of their surroundings.
Staff member January 18, 2013 at 07:29 PM
As a staff member , I feel locking the students out of their classrooms during recess & lunch is being excessive. The entrances are locked. We have monitors on duty. If a student forgets his/her lunch or outerwear , someone should be allowed to go into the classroom and retrieve the items.
siobhan hullinger January 18, 2013 at 07:55 PM
That does seem excessive. I would assume someone could help the student. Does what you describe happen now or is it new implementation?
sudburycitizentoo January 18, 2013 at 09:54 PM
That's not the excessive thing. How about the new SH show on Patch! How many posts on Patch today? And on Facebook? LOL!!!!! Armed guards at schools is such a lovely thought. What next--metal detectors at the door? Why not a core screening for all students--that could have helped in recent Sudbury events.
Staff member January 18, 2013 at 10:08 PM
It is new - part of the new safety procedures- and no we as staff cannot do anything
Kelly Cyr January 19, 2013 at 03:58 PM
I think this is a great first step to finding ways to keep our kids safe. As long as people have the "freedom" to own guns (even those that in my opionion should not be held by anyone other than military personel)and companies are allowed to make and sell violent video games and violent movies are filmed, than there will continue to be a risk that someone could go off the deep end and bring harm to another school, town or home. We are constantly bombarded with violence, sex, abuse and drugs (all under the guise of "freedom of speech") and saddly there are people out there that, mentally or emotionally, can not process the difference between fantasy and reality. So until we take a stand as a nation that we no longer will tolerate such violence (which will never happen) than we have to take steps to live safely in this violent world. That being said I am disappointed that I am not hearing about measures being taken at the High School level. Just because they are not little does not mean that something needs to be done about how easily ANYONE can enter the school AND how easily and without notice the kids can leave. It is and open door to anyone who wants to cause harm. Just my two cents
MsErie January 19, 2013 at 04:00 PM
M makes an important point in that increasing security is for reasons far beyond mass shootings. A mass shooting, while drawing the big public attention, is much less likely than a deadly lightning strike, but it is rather common for a school to have one or more adults linked to student families that may intend harm or misconduct at some point or another. These are the main reasons to have secured entry and strict protocols for the monitoring of visitors. I will add, though that Mr. Parinella's comment about this expense not being able to stop Sandy Hook misses the point. Video cameras, buzzer entry, and lockdown protocols will not prevent people from being killed when a person shows up at a school door armed with an AR-15 and two semi-automatic handguns. Neither, for that matter, would Chuck Sudbury's suggestion of armed guards, as the victims at Columbine (or, say, the heavily-outfitted military base at Fort Hood) will attest. What these measures will do in the event of such an infinitesimally rare and overwhelming attack such as the one in Newtown is significantly slow down and frustrate the attacker, minimizing the killing until police arrive. This is, in fact, what happened at Sandy Hook. The success of the newly-installed security was the difference between 26 killed and 56 killed, as tragic as that is to say. Many who are alive today in Newtown owe their survival to those measures put in place just this past year by a true American hero, principal Dawn Hochsprung.

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