HUNTINGTON, Mass. (The Westfield News) - Gateway principals were once again in the hot seat, as they underwent a ‘table top’ drill last week under the careful observation of officials from the Massachusetts State Police.
“They did really well,” noted Trooper James Carmichael, who serves on a statewide school security unit. “It’s to be expected because Gateway’s considered the model for this work.”
The principals, a school secretary, the security guard and the public information officer were all put through their paces in managing an armed intruder, as they sat together and mapped out their step-by-step responses to an unfolding, make believe scenario.
As always, it was discovered that a key part of successfully managing a crisis was going to be the response of parents.
“As students text their parents in an emergency, parents may try to call the school or come to the school,” noted Carmichael. “This could actually put everyone at greater risk because it could tie up phone lines that are needed to communicate with emergency agencies or block the access of emergency response vehicles.”
“It is so counter-intuitive for parents to stay away,” noted Wendy Long, the district’s public information officer. “But it really is the best thing they could do. And those who stay by their phones could be the first to actually reunite with their children after a crisis.”
In any emergency at a Gateway school, parents are asked to remain by their telephones and wait for information, updates and instructions on when and where to pick up their children.
Gateway school safety hotline highlighted:
As part of Gateway’s ongoing commitment to school safety, a school safety hotline is in place for the Gateway Regional School District. The hotline, which is monitored by Joshua Fanion, Gateway’s Security Monitor is a voice mailbox that can be used to report harassment, bullying, drug or alcohol concerns, vandalism, and school safety issues. The purpose of the Safety Hotline is to help keep Gateway schools safe for all students.
Students, parents, and community members can leave a message on the Safety Hotline by calling (413) 685-1050. The system works like an answering machine, and callers can leave their name and details about their concern, including the names of others involved, dates, times and location. Callers’ names will be kept confidential. Fanion will check messages left on the hotline and report concerns to the appropriate Gateway principal or community agency. The hotline has been in place for many years.
This week is America’s Safe Schools Week.
Media Credit: The Westfield News