December 16, 2012
Dear Parents and Guardians,
It is with tremendous sadness that I write you concerning the horrific tragedy that occurred in Newtown on Friday, December 14, 2012. While I wish there were something I could do or say to quiet your worries and concerns as you send your children off to school each day, I would be disingenuous if I were to even try. Instead, I mourn with you and will try to offer some explanations of the safety precautions we have taken in all of our schools, and what we will do moving forward to be certain there is nothing we’ve overlooked. My hope is that this will provide you with at least some small degree of comfort.
Each of the schools in North Haven is always locked and people can only be granted permission to enter the school by being buzzed in by a staff member who can see them on a security camera. There is only one point of entry in every school and visitors are expected to report directly to the office and sign in before going anywhere in the school. Office personnel will be reminded of the importance of making certain that anyone granted entry to the school be asked to report directly to the office. All visitors need to wear visitor badges of some type that can only be picked up in the office.
All schools have emergency plans detailing procedures and protocols in the event of a number of emergencies including when the building goes in lockdown. While schools practice these drills in the same way we practice fire drills, I’m going to ask that they increase the frequency with which they do so they are more familiar to students. We are also going to examine all of our safety practices in the wake of this tragedy to make certain there are no gaps that need to be examined. The district is also represented on a town wide Emergency Planning Team. Phil Diana, North Haven’s Supervisor of Grounds and Maintenance serves on this committee and is responsible for brining back all pertinent information to the School Safety Teams. I’ve already spoken with First Selectman Freda about meeting with the Chief of Police and reviewing all of the district’s protocols concerning emergencies. We will schedule that meeting as soon as possible.
At the elementary levels students are never left unsupervised or unattended. There are always adults present on the playground, in the cafeteria, or when they are moving from one part of the school to another. While there isn’t recess at the middle and high schools, students are always supervised when outside of the classroom. There are adults responsible for the supervision of students at all levels during any unstructured situation.
Please know that we will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to keep all students safe at school. There is nothing more important to any of us. If you have any suggestions concerning how we can strengthen what we do, please discuss them with the administrator at your child’s school. By working together, I believe we will provide our students with a high quality, safe learning environment.
As always, thank you for your ongoing support and cooperation. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at 203-239-2581 with any questions and concerns.
Robert D. Cronin, Ph.D. Superintendent