Holyoke School District looks toward safer future with new buildings

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – We continue our coverage of local school safety, after the school massacre in Parkland, Florida.

On Monday you saw the safety measures currently in place at local schools. Now, we discovered how new schools have safety in their design plan.

A buzzer at the front door, cameras inside, a vestibule entrance, locked classroom doors, adults wearing I.D.’s. training for lockdowns. It’s all part of Holyoke’s current safety plan.

But for Holyoke, a district with older schools, rebuilding under state receivership, they are looking toward the future. A future built around safety.

Built in 1989, the William J. Dean Technical High School is Holyoke’s newest school. Holyoke hopes to have one large or two small new middle schools within the next four to five years. The city has engaged in a feasibility study and is looking at locations near the Peck and Lawrence School sites. Those schools would have studios where locked classrooms are connected to a locked common area. A double layer of protection. Glass entrances are being re-designed.

“If we are looking to include those types of glass exposures, to have them above the first for and not something that would be available for sight lines or for any other intrusionary purpose,” explained Holyoke Public Schools Maintenance Administrator Whitney Anderson.

Also a part of the national conversation is arming teachers.

“I don’t support arming teachers,” stated Holyoke Receiver / Superintendent Dr. Steve Zrike. “I support arming teachers with better resources and training. Arming schools with better mental health supports…Arming teachers gets into a host of other issues regarding the safety of weapons.”

Dr. Zrike did say they’ve had conversations about using metal detectors and have already metal detecting wands in certain situations.

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