Superintendent Lisa Howard has made it her mission to maintain a safe school atmosphere for both staff and students, and she has recruited the help of the fire and police departments to enforce a very specific safety protocol for the 2019-2020 school year. Planned reactions to threats, active emergencies and intruders are part of the safety equation and Howard plans to keep parents updated on all trainings that take place amongst staff members.
“The Winthrop Fire and Police departments are key members of our Safety Team and partner with us by providing ongoing guidance and support as we encounter situations both in and outside of our community,” said Howard. “Chief Delehanty and Chief Flanagan have worked closely with me to ensure that our safety protocols and response measures are compliant and communicated with our families in a manner that leaves no potential breach in identifying the specifics that would leave us vulnerable to any potential interruption of the safety protocols that we have in place.”
In a letter that went home to parents, Howard shared the updated safety protocols, including a schedule of fire, intrusion, lockdown and hold in place drills that have occurred in each of the school buildings. Intended to enhance safety, the drills have resulted in several structural improvements, staying in line with the district’s strategic goals. Prior to the start of the school year, a fire and police inspection were completed on all of the buildings. Door locks and mechanisms are checked regularly and safe spots have been identified, taking into account many variables.
Upon hiring, all staff are required to become ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) certified. In an ongoing effort to stay updated on the latest safety trends, the district has Tier 1 and Tier 2 Threat Assessment Teams that consist of administrators, police, fire, and community health staff, who undergo regular professional development.
The school/fire/police relationship is further enhanced by the School Resource Officer position that allows the administration direct access to fire and police support when needed. In addition to the partnership with emergency responders, the district is staffed with experienced professionals who are qualified to recognize mental health concerns in students and guide them accordingly.
“Safety is something that requires ongoing adjustments and it is critical that schools remain proactive and vigilant which is why it is a major component of our School District Strategic Plan and involves the partnership of the Police and Fire Departments,” said Howard.