Uniformed and plain clothes police officers will be stationed at all Medford Public School buildings from now into January, among other additional security measures announced by Superintendent Roy Belson.
In an email, Belson said he met with Mayor Mike McGlynn, Police Chief Leo Sacco Jr. and other school and community officials review the district's safety procedures and safeguards in the wake of Friday's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT where 20 children and six adults were killed before the shooter took his own life.
"While our assessment is that our schools are safe, we have decided to take additional action steps to increase coverage and strengthen rules that will add an extra dimension to our security at all school buildings," Belson wrote.
In addition to the police officers stationed at school buildings, additional school staff will be assigned to security at each school building throughout the day.
All doors besides the main door of each school will be locked for outside of entry, and the main door will be supervised. Visits by non-essential vendors and others will be suspended, and traffic supervisors around the schools will ensure that vehicle and pedestrian traffic respect school zone rules.
"All must obey the directions of these public safety officials [the traffic supervisors]," Belson wrote.
All safety and security protocols will be reviewed with faculty and staff; the regional mutual aid system (STARS) will be on alert for intervention as may be required; school officials will continue weekly meetings with police and District Attorney staff; and the district will begin an upgrade of all security cameras and electronic entry systems.
Belson said officials will communicate with the public through the district's website, cable tv, and reverse 911 systems.
Counseling services will also be available as needed.
The additional security measures will be in place throughout December and into January, Belson said, and will be re-evaluated as officials assess the situations at each building and in the community and region.
"We believe that these enhanced measures can be accomplished without compromising a conducive learning environment and a desirable school climate," Belson wrote. "However, of necessity, these actions will make it less convenient for entry and visitation to our school sites. I feel confident that you understand and that we will have your full cooperation."
Belson said parents should limit media exposure of young children to the Newtown tragedy, answering theyr questions but not giving more information than necessary, and assuring them that their schools are safe and their teachers and staff will take care of the,
"If your child is deeply troubled then seek professional assistance," Belson wrote. "With older children it is advisable to turn their questions into teachable moments. It is important to learn what their friends think and to maximize empathy for those affected by violence. Don’t dwell on the details of the events. Seek professional help if warranted by a continuing obsession with the events."