As the horror of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting unfolds it is natural to ask, how safe are our schools in New Jersey?
Schools throughout the state have been gradually building up security systems since the 1990s. As reported on Northjersey.com, the doors of most of the schools in Bergen and Passaic counties are locked and people must be buzzed in to enter. Some individual districts, such as Englewood, Fort Lee and Clifton, have security officers or police stationed regularly at the schools.
Not every school feels that extra personnel is necessary, or can afford such an expense during this time of shrinking budgets.
The state mandates twice-monthly emergency drills, along the lines of a lock-down. Schools must have emergency plans for everything from gas leaks to armed attacks, and a close working relationship with local police. Towns and school districts are equipped with reverse 911 systems, to alert parents in the case of emergency.
Many of these strategies were in use in Newtown, and yet the attacker was still able to enter the school with his weapons. As Richard Bozza, head of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, said, “Schools are still the safest place for kids, but none of us can be prepared for anything like this.”
Parents are advised to let the school know if there is a domestic violence issue in the home which could result in shooting or other violence at school. In addition, families should talk to their children and let them know that measures are being taken to keep them safe, and to remind them about the importance of following rules and safety protocol.