Starting today visitors to the Howell Public Schools will notice changes in protocol as the district works to address the community's safety concerns.
Superintendent Enid Golden said the steps being taken following the shooting in Newtown, CT are being taken after working with the Howell Police Department to ensure the safety of students and staff.
The Howell schools already had a single point of entry in all buildings but the new policies will work to make those entrances more secure. In her letter Golden laid out the changes visitors can expect to see now:
- No visitors are to enter the building with students after arrival. All visitors to our schools will need to have an appointment to enter the building. (If you require assistance, an appointment must be made after the start of the school day.)
- At the buzzer, it is expected that all visitors will state the purpose of their visit and/or specify with whom they have the appointment.
- If the appointment is verified, the visitor will be buzzed in and must present themselves to the main office immediately upon entry.
- Visitors will be required to show identification, and sign in to obtain a visitor's pass.
- It is imperative that visitors do not hold the door open for others behind them. Each visitor must be acknowledged individually through the buzzer system.
- If you must drop off an item for a student (lunch, homework, etc.) you will be directed to deposit that item in a bin outside the main entry.
- If you will be picking your child up early, you must notify the office in writing prior to dismissal. If it is an emergency, call the office to notify the school.
- Front office secretaries will be required to call 911 and notify school administrators if the visitor is uncooperative, does not adhere to the procedures, or becomes threatening.
Golden said that if these procedures are not followed it "may result in a lockdown." She said the changes are not geared to dissuade visitors, "who are, as always welcome in our schools." They are being done to ensure the safety of the people in the building. "We are saddened by the need to employ this protocol, but the safety of our students and staff must remain our priority."
As with any changes Golden said there may be "glitches," as people get used to the new policies. She said through those growing pains the safety of the schools will be ensured. "Please accept our apologies in advance, as well as our commitment to implementing these new guidelines as efficiently as possible."
Anyone with questions about the changes is encouraged to contact the building principals.
Following a recent meeting of the board of education a Safety Task Force was established that will look at possible changes for the future. Golden said those changes could include, "individual building risk assessments, panic buttons, police officers at each building, and cameras and access cards." The group consists of board members, staff members and community members which includes parents and members of the police department.
Board member Tim O'Brien and District Business Administrator Ron Sanasac are chairing the Task Force and Golden said feedback from the community is always appreciated. Anyone with thoughts or concerns are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.