On the one hand it was “inconceivable,” said Shelter Island School Superintendent Michael Hynes, but to protect students, a plan has to be in place if the inconceivable becomes real.
Noting there were many heavy hearts at school Monday, Dr. Hynes said that the Connecticut killings had forced a review of the school’s security plans and protocols and how they can be augmented.
Dr. Hynes met with Police Chief Jim Read, who also heads the town’s Emergency Management Committee, early this morning along with his top staffers about the emergency security plan in place for the school.
One area that needs to be addressed, Dr. Hynes said was the main lobby of the school. “We really need to focus on when visitors come here and what happens when they do,” he said. “The majority of our efforts will be to look at when a visitor comes and how they get from point A to point B.”
He wouldn’t characterize Shelter Island as a completely “open school,” Dr. Hynes said, but there were many people in and out of the facility during the day.
“We want to maintain an open feel, but in light of [the Connecticut killings] we need to focus on what is most important, which is the safety of our kids,” the superintendent said.
The possibility of employing closed circuit TV is would be discussed, he added.
The procedure for entering the school now is that visitors are requested to sign in. The main office is then notified of their presence and where they’re going. “But to be honest with you, it needs to be tighter and we need to really focus on when parents or visitors come here unannounced,” Dr. Hynes said. “We may have to shift some of the practice we now have, such as buzzing in.”
His concerns are not just for the times school in in session, but after school as well. “We have a lot of community members using the school, whether in the gym or other areas while students are still here,” he said.
Tonight’s regular meeting of the Shelter Island Board of Education will have security on the agenda, Dr. Hynes said. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the library.