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January 15. 2013 10:39PM

Derry schools work on improving safety

DERRY - In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last month, the Derry School District is looking at ways to make sure its schools are as safe as possible, Superintendent Laura Nelson said.

"The Derry schools continue to work collaboratively with the Derry police and fire departments to ensure our students' safety," she said.

In late December, school administrators met with representatives from the police department for a debriefing on the Newtown shooting and to discuss the district's safety plans at its elementary and middle schools.

"In a review of our individual school procedures at that time, we looked at all of our school procedures," Nelson said.

She said some schools are looking at adjusting their procedures for early morning and afternoon drop-offs and pickups.

"For example, (principal) Dan LaFleur at the Barka Elementary School instituted, as of Dec. 18, a new procedure which requires that parents not walk their children to their classrooms each morning," Nelson said. "He is asking parents to drop the students off at the front door, and if a student needs assistance walking to a classroom, school personnel will do that for the child."

Nelson said LaFleur has received positive feedback from parents since the change has been implemented.

"Our goal is not to have parents view this as punitive or trying to keep parents out of our schools," said Nelson. "We are only doing these things for safety, and we urge parents to work with us to provide the safest situations for our children."

One other change that has taken place across the board requires visitors to check in at the main office of a school when they are buzzed into a building.

"In the past, that wasn't necessarily the situation when a person was buzzed into the building that it was mandatory that they come directly to the office," Nelson said.

She said the district is also looking at potential drop-off and pickup procedures at East Derry Elementary school, where Nelson stated there is often crowding in the hallways in the afternoon.

"Each school is a little different in its procedures, but (they) all follow the same safety standards," Nelson said.
aswift@newstote.com

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