In the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, Newton school and city officials have assessed the district's safety measures and decided to install buzzer and camera entry systems at all Newton elementary and middle schools.
The new buzzer systems will allow the K-8 schools to remain locked during the day through dismissal, according to a letter sent to the school community Friday afternoon by Superintendent David Fleishman.
"We must continue to improve our safety practices and procedures in a thoughtful manner," Fleishman said in the letter. "There are sensible security measures that we can implement while preserving the sense of community that is a hallmark of the Newton Public Schools."
As explained in an earlier statement from Fleishman, the current policy requires school doors to be locked during the day, except the front (main) door, which is left unlocked.
The elementary and middle schools will keep the current policy of having the front door unlocked during drop-off time, but any parents or visitors coming to the school after the drop-off period will have to use the buzzer and be identified by school staff before the front door is unlocked, Fleishman said.
Both the mayor and the School Committee support installing the new buzzer entry system, Fleishman said.
Administrators will notify parents and school community members when the system is in place, along with more details on after school procedures.
Over the last few weeks, district and city officials have met with members of the Newton Police Department, school principals and the district safety team to discuss and assess the current safety measures and emergency procedures. That process will continue, Fleishman said.
"In the coming weeks, we will continue to assess our safety and security procedures in all of our buildings, including the high schools," Fleishman said.
In addition to the buzzer system, the district already uses a keyless entry system at elementary and middle schools as well as security cameras at the high schools, Fleishman said. All schools throughout the district also have shades and locks on classroom doors.
Principals also work with staff to cover emergency procedures such as lockdown drills, shelter-in-place procedures and evacuations, Fleishman said.
Fleishman's full statement is included in the .pdf section above.