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Safety in Schools, a Shared Responsibility

In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Fla. that left 17 people dead, local school officials are reassessing and reviewing practices and protocols to ensure the safety of their students and staff.

The February 14 school shooting reaffirmed the need for school districts to review their safety plans with all of the stakeholders including local emergency response departments.

"We have tremendous partnerships with the Milford Police and Fire Departments," said Milford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kevin McIntyre in an interview with The Town Crier. "We are continuously working with them and have always taken safety and security very seriously."

McIntyre said that along with the constant updating of their safety plan, the school district already has a number of security measures in place. Many of the school buildings have two sets of locked doors and need to be buzzed in by the front office to gain access. All staff and visitors are required to wear a badge at all times while in the building, and each school is equipped with security cameras.

Two school resource officers provide support to the district and numerous drills are held by both administration and the police department to prepare for any emergency. During February vacation, the Milford Police Department conducted an active shooter drill at Woodland Elementary School, and will rotate the drills to different schools in the future.

Since the Parkland shooting, McIntyre said that they have been "reassessing practices and protocols" and meeting with the Milford Public School staff to reinforce security measures.

"The safety and security of our students and staff has always been out number one priority," said McIntyre. "Obviously the event in Florida bring safety concerns to the forefront, but we want to assure everyone that this has always been a priority to us all along."

And although planning for an emergency is always important, being reactive isn't the only step that can be taken to keep our kids safe, according to McIntyre.

"Safety and security is a shared responsibility," he said. "We encourage everyone, if something doesn't feel right, or sound right to you, speak to a teacher or administrator. Please don't hesitate to reach out to one of our principals or counselors if your child shares something that concerns you or you see something on social media. We welcome these conversations."

One town over in Upton, where a number of Milford residents attend the Blackstone Valley Regional Technical High School (BVT), they too have been reviewing and reinforcing their security measures.

"Safety is everyone's job at BVT," said BVT Principal Anthony Steele in a February 27 statement. "Students and staff not only look out for one another at BVT, but also speak up routinely if they have concern for a fellow student."

Steele said that integral to the school culture is the promoting of "ownership and empowerment of the students and staff."

"We are proud of our collective ownership of school safety that starts by keeping our eyes and ears open, and being encouraged and empowered to speak up when something does not feel right," he said. "This ranges from our approach to: wear our school identification at all times, watch out for one another while operating potentially dangerous equipment, keep windows and doors locked, report suspicious behavior, or speak up about anything that otherwise causes concern."

Along with fostering the social emotional well-being of their students as a precaution against school threats, Steele commented that over the past five years, BVT has upgraded their video surveillance system and the accessibility of those cameras by Upton Pplice and invested and trained on several new communication technologies to address school shooter and other emergency scenarios.

"[We] enjoy a great working relationship with the Upton Police, and we are proud of our mutual commitment to safety," said Steele. "This close collaboration has significantly contributed to our overall safety at BVT."


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