School shootings can affect how students and administrators view security throughout the country. And things are no different in Madison.
In response to the Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland Fla., Madison Superintendent Mark Schwarz sent a letter to parents and students informing them about security measures the district currently utilizes at all five Rose City public schools, as well as further safety precautions administrators might employ in the future.
Staff and students at all schools are trained in emergency response practices that include regular lockdown and active shooter drills, Schwarz said in his letter. A school resource officer is stationed daily at the high school. The letter did not mention whether other resource officers are present at the elementary and middle schools.
Faculty and administrators are also familiar with how to immediately respond to and report any suspicious activity, Schwarz said. All school doors are locked, even during the school day, and all visitors must be screened upon entrance.
In case of an emergency, Madison’s “highly supportive” police and fire departments are “immediately available when necessary,” Schwarz said.
Madison Public Schools is committed to the implementation of ongoing improvements that can amp up security district wide, according to Schwarz.
“Even before Wednesday's tragedy, we had scheduled a meeting with the (police department) and a subsequent meeting of our district School Security Team to discuss ways that we can augment our students' safety,” he said.
According to Schwarz, improvement initiatives the district is currently exploring include:
- Visitor screening tools that require the scanning of a state issued ID
- Enhanced door security measures and further restricted access for visitors
- Improved security measures for arrival and dismissal times
- Active response training (such as ALICE) that empower staff and students to have flexible options to find safety in the event of a shooting
- Increased security cameras
- The possible addition of security staff
- Software that can automatically monitor student online activities on our network
- Tip line capabilities for anonymous reporting of suspicious incidents
- Improved wellness initiatives to improve school culture and student well-being
- Additional training for our staff in identifying students that are in crisis and providing them with support and intervention
Schwarz also issued the following reminders to parents that he said “will reduce our exposure to risk by working together as a school community.”
“While school shootings are rare, our collective vigilance can dramatically reduce potential risks,” he said.
Here is a look at his suggestions:
- If you see something, do something
- Be aware of your surroundings and the concerns of students
- Call the police if you become aware of an immediate threat
- Show support for security initiatives
- Talk to your children
In his letter, Schwarz also urged parents and students who may have information that could jeopardize the safety of a Madison school to contact him. If an immediate threat exists, call the Madison Police Department at 973-593-3000.
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