The Verona and Cedar Grove School Districts are re-examining their safety guidelines following the Friday, Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
School officials have been in close contact with local police to ensure the safety of all Verona and Cedar Grove students.
Following the tragedy, Verona Superintendent Steven Forte held a conference phone call with Verona Police Chief Douglas Huber.
“We decided it would be important to make some adjustments in the short term and work to indentify areas that could be improved in the long term,” said Forte.
For the short term, Verona schools will:
- Increase police presence.
- Have extra school personnel to monitor the halls and doors in each building.
- Hold staff meetings to review security procedures.
- All schools will conduct additional emergency drills.
- Have crisis councelors available in each building.
- Brief staff on signs and symptoms of distress in students
In the long term, Verona Police and the Verona School District will complete an audit of school security procedures and drills, policies, equipment, training and include personnel from outside agencies.
“It is very difficult to deal with the emotions that come out from horrible events like this,” said Forte. “Not only am I your superintendent but I am also the father of two school-aged children and the husband of a teacher.”
“I thought it would be reassuring to let everyone know that we take the safety of your children very seriously,” he added.
The Cedar Grove School District is reviewing all safety procedures with school staff as well as those monitoring the visitors entering and exiting the buildings.
All schools will plan and review “lock down” procedures at all district buildings, said Cedar Grove Superintendent Dr. Gene Polles.
“Please know that all schools conduct emergency drills, including intruder drills and have safety plans in place to follow,” he said in a letter to parents. “As always, when we conduct these drills we communicate and involve the Cedar Grove Police Department during this activity.”
Cedar Grove Police will continue their presence around the schools during the day and during the evening hours, he added.
Polles stressed parents should discuss the incident with their children.
“Talking about these events at home will help to shore up the feeling of security we want our children to have in our schools,” he said. “At the same time, these talks will also reinforce the importance of our children remembering and following emergency protocols at school if we ever find ourselves needing to use them.”
Polles also asked parents to stress the importance of following the directions of teachers, support staff and school leaders during emergency drills and whenever they are at school, he said.
“Acts of insanity like this are not always preventable, but we do all we can to make our children safe,” said Polles. “Please know we are all here for your children and you if you need our assistance.”
Additional information can be found on the Cedar Grove School District website.