After recent school shootings, a safety checklist for Bedford parentsBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
March 21. 2018 12:07AM
BEDFORD — In light of the recent school shooting in Florida, Superintendent Chip McGee has drafted a a document that will serve as a checklist for parents and help guide them through an emergency situation.
In addition, the superintendent is scheduling meetings with parents and staff at all six schools to discuss building safety.
“Even though these are tragic events, we need to learn from them,” McGee said of the shooting that killed 17 people last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
His proposed “Emergency Operations Plan for Parents” is a two-page document designed to help parents and guardians to understand where they fit into the larger plan, ask parents to do some preplanning and provide information in the case of an emergency.
It includes a preventative security checklist with guidelines on how to properly check in and out of the schools, wear name badges at all times while visiting schools, avoid traveling to the school during an emergency unless directed otherwise, update emergency numbers in cell phones with the district’s and only using social media to share factual information.
The document also focuses on targeted violence at school, reminding parents that although there is no accurate profile of students who engage in violence, most attackers behave in ways that cause concern or indicate a need for help prior to tragic incidents.
“If you see something, say something. You can share your concern with a school administrator, our school resource officer or local law enforcement,” says the plan for parents. “ … Make new connections. The strength of our community is the connections between people. Help those who need connections find them. This makes each of us safer because it makes our whole community stronger.”
The plan also outlines the different evacuation, lockdown, shelter in place and other drills that are practiced at local schools.
According to McGee, local police and fire officials have practiced active shooter drills at five of the six schools this year, and the final drill will take place by the end of the school year.
“We still have lots of work to do and lots of things that we can do better,” he acknowledged, saying there is not just one solution.
Cindy Chagnon, school board chairman, agreed.
“It is an ongoing process, of course. There is a lot more we can do and we are trying to figure out what is going to be next for Bedford,” she said.
School officials have included $120,000 in the school district’s budget to improve safety features at the entrances to local schools. And, McGee said, he is scheduling separate meetings with parents and staff at all of the schools to discuss individual school emergency plans and to answer questions about school safety.
“I think we need to make sure that we are proactive in empowering our children to know who to go to and the types of things they need to look for,” Julie Tierney told the school board last week.
Tierney said it is important that if something of concern is reported that the school investigate and that information is reviewed and coordinated.