School Safety

Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff:

Re: Emergency Preparedness

Unfortunately, during the past decade the issue of school safety has of necessity been placed front and center in the thinking and planning that school personnel must engage in every year.  Whether the issue is the emotional safety of students experiencing a significant loss or the very real physical dangers that are posed by armed intruders or terrorists, our Crisis Team is prepared to respond.  We are fortunate to have as partners not only our local first responders, the Bedford Police Department and the Bedford Fire Department, but also the Northeast Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC), a consortium of police departments, and the School Threat Assessment and Response System (STARS) comprised of regional police and school personnel.

Our school system responds to warnings about potential threats by working to ensure four things: (1) the schools stay current with the best information about school safety; (2) all four schools have crisis plans in place, ready for quick and confident activation; (3) time is set aside annually to practice crisis plan implementation; and (4) school system resources are available to help with the mental health needs of children and adults during any time of crisis.

Pursuant to the findings of our School Safety Task Force three years ago, we added safety features to all four school buildings, enabling us to keep doors locked at all times, and to install shatter proof glass at all entrances.  Based upon the task force recommendations that the Bedford School Committee adopted, we transitioned during the past two years to the ALICE protocols recommended by then governor, Deval Patrick, that provide personnel with more in-the-moment decision making power than previous “lock down” procedures allowed.  Accordingly, if a teacher perceives that exiting the building would ensure a greater likelihood of safety than staying in place, he or she may exercise that discretion.  For more information on the ALICE protocols, please see                            .

The school department and all school facilities have Crisis Management Plans. The plans have been designed with the help of school security staff members, as well as local law enforcement, emergency management, and public health officials. Plans are regularly reviewed and updated. These plans include procedures to respond to critical incidents requiring school evacuations, such as fire, as well as emergency lockdowns, hostage situations, etc.

The expectation is that schools will do the best they can with existing resources under whatever circumstances occur and that students, staff and parents will be supportive and flexible. We have been guided by and will continue to work with Chief Bonjiorno, Chief Grunes and Hanscom officials. In any emergency situation, response strategies will depend on the nature and scope of the incident and prevailing conditions. Public safety officials will play a critical role in identifying the specific nature, cause, and extent of the emergency, as well as providing guidance to administrators on the response steps that must be implemented. In such cases, we will react at the direction of public safety and health officials.

Administrators will rely on previous crisis preparedness training, their school Crisis Plans, and their leadership and problem-solving skills in responding to a variety of emergency situations. Each emergency incident will involve a multitude of factors, and administrators need to be flexible and adaptable in developing and implementing response strategies. While there is no one set of response guidelines to deal with every possible emergency situation, administrators will use Crisis Plan procedures as the foundation of the initial response to any emergency situation, and do the best they can with the resources currently in schools.

Parents should know that access to schools during an incident might be restricted for a variety of reasons beyond our control. In such instances, parents should remain aware of public notices on radio, television, the Internet including the BPS Web Site about emergency procedures and updates. In any case, student and staff safety is our first priority. All procedures are designed for their protection.

If you have questions about your child’s school, I would encourage you to call the principal. Thanks for working together with us to ensure your child's safety.

Sincerely,

Mr. Jon Sills

Superintendent of Schools

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