In the wake of Friday's tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Augusta's law enforcement has stepped up its presence at local schools. Officers were visible as children entered the buildings Monday morning and as they left in the afternoon.
The safety of children continues to be a concern for USD 402. For several years all district buildings have been locked down and visitors are admitted only after entering secured front doors. The district also has a crisis plan in place in case of an emergency situation.
School employees review the plan and receive related training regularly. All students and staff are involved in drills to practice the six types of responses, including Total Lockdown, Exterior Lockdown, Clear the Halls, Evacuation, Off-Site Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place. More information regarding the crisis plan can be found at:www.usd402.com/team/crisis-preparedness.
Augusta Superintendent Dr. John Black advised the district took immediate action upon hearing of the tragedy.
"We made contact with our staff and Board of Education members and asked that they review the crisis plan. I met with all building principals over the weekend and they reported their plans concerning comments to their staff and parents of our students. Also, any security concerns or needs were discussed. We were also in touch with the Safety Department and we are working together. We appreciate their help."
Teachers were prepared to address any questions that students may have concerning the school shootings and counselors are on hand to provide emotional support.
Simply seeing a police officer at the front door of a school building is reassuring to many parents and students alike.
Augusta Department of Safety Director and Chief Tyler Brewer stated, "We want to continue to make our children feel safe. As reported and known in that controlled environment of that particular school in Connecticut that they did all that they could do in the way of security," he continued, "We will have an increased presence when school commences and when it let's out. We will be randomly in and out throughout the day. It is a measure to make people feel safer, but also to dissuade any people with the wrong idea - they won't know what time we'll be dropping in."