BANGOR – In light of the recent spate of violence in schools around the country, the Bangor School Department has taken a renewed approach to student safety, Superintendent Robert Ervin said Tuesday.
He told the Bangor School Committee that he and the school principals have revisited safety procedures and agreed to focus on making sure that:
. Faculty and staff are aware of their personal responsibilities for the safety of students and are alert to potential threats.
. A variety of emergency strategies are used for warning and response so that if one breaks down, another will kick in.
. Access to schools is carefully monitored and controlled.
“We pay close attention to who is on the grounds and in the schools,” he said.
The public – and even parents – can’t move freely in and around schools, Ervin said. Halls are monitored and a number of barriers and buffers have been set up around the buildings. In addition, only the front door of each school remains unlocked.
“We have to be aware of who’s on campus,” he said. “When we see someone coming we don’t recognize or who has parked in the wrong place, we walk out the door and ask their business. We aren’t passive. We can’t be.”
The days when adults would cluster together in tight groups talking during recess are gone, Ervin said. Instead, teachers spread out and keep a sharp eye on youngsters and on all the tight spots and spaces around the schools.
Strict protocols are in place for releasing children, according to the superintendent.
“We don’t simply let them go out the front door to whatever awaits outside,” he said. Staff members make sure that every child who is supposed to board the bus is doing so and that the people pulling up in cars to pick up children are, in fact, parents.
School personnel also are aware of family issues. “We’re not a counseling agency but we can defuse some of the problems,” Ervin said.
Finally, parents are made aware of the safety rules through postings on doors, newsletters, contact with teachers, and Web sites.
“We can never be 100 percent sure of safety and security, but we can make sure we have the protocols, procedures, knowledge and communication in place to be able to prevent most of what can happen,” Ervin said.