By Katlyn Vuillemot
Lansing Township News Writer
LANSING CHARTER TOWNSHIP – Waverly Community School officials say that the shooting at a school in Newton, Conn. had little effect on their security measures due to the already high priority placed on children’s safety.
“After the Connecticut shooting, we immediately looked at ways to improve,” said Eldon McGraw, the director of communications for the Waverly School District. “The week of the shooting, we had police at the schools to calm and inform students, administrators and parents.”
The shooting that on Dec. 14 2012, was the nation’s second deadliest school shooting leaving 26 dead, including 20 elementary students.
The Waverly schools have made a few changes since the shooting including mandatory staff ID’s that hang around each workers neck, said McGraw. The ID’s are used for identification in case of emergencies. The schools have also increased security at the building entrances. The only way for visitors and students to enter once classes start is through the office.
The only future security prospects for the district is a technology bond, which will be voted on by the board in May, according to Terry Urquhart, the superintendent for Waverly Community Schools,
“The technology bond will help add in more cameras to our schools, but it has nothing to do with the recent events in the media such as the Connecticut shooting,” said Urquhart. “It’s just a continuation of improvement in security.”
The Waverly Community Schools have always had security staff, but the measures vary by grade level, McGraw said. For middle school and high school schools only, there are security guards on duty. Also, occasionally a police officer pokes his head into the high school.
The school district has an award winning Emergency Response and Security plan developed by the Waverly school district staff and emergency responders, said McGraw. The response plan places children and staff into a simulated emergency situation so they can practice how to act. The scenarios are not just for shootings, but also catastrophes such as tornados and fires.
According to McGraw, the school district has only practiced with the Emergency Response and Security plan three times, but the plan has been apart of the curriculum since 2001, long before the Connecticut shooting ever happened.
Everything is practiced as if the emergency were actually happening, said McGraw. Depending on the situation, fire trucks, FBI, police officers and ambulances come to the rescue. Once the scenario is done, students and teachers meet for a school wide briefing on what happened and ways to improve.
“Waverly has enforced code red security at our schools and used our Emergency Response Plan to help us,” said McGraw, “We continue to practice with the children and to keep staff up to date with the Emergency Response Plan booklet, exercises and discussion at the professional development meetings.”
“Security could always be better,” said Urquhart “We are always concerned about protecting our students.”