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Fairfield Leaders Tackle School Safety Questions From Parents

At Fairfield Warde High School, a sign keeps students and teachers aware of the constant concern for their safety.
At Fairfield Warde High School, a sign keeps students and teachers aware of the constant concern for their safety. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- The one question shared by parents who attended last week’s school safety meeting was, How prepared is the town of Fairfield to protect the children?

The Police Department is working closely with the school district to ensure that every student is kept as safe as possible, said Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara, who fielded many of the questions asked at the meeting of more than 100 parents and residents in the Fairfield Warde High School auditorium.

“Safety is not event specific,” MacNamara said. But in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, police are focused on making sure all of Fairfield schools are as safe as possible.

The district has been working with the police to find a way to make the schools safer without turning them into jails, Superintendent David Title said. Each of the elementary schools and middle schools had a card swipe system installed on all doors, and the high schools have security guards working throughout the day.

Some parents asked about putting a police officer at each of the schools instead of the rotating DARE officers and school resource officers . But MacNamara said that with 17 schools, it would be expensive and might not be the best use of the town’s resources considering all of the other precautions that schools are taking.

Title cited the importance of the lockdown drills, which take place twice a year at each school.

“The world has changed since the lockdown procedures were first put in place,” Title said, explaining that the district has practiced the procedures since 2000. “We’re constantly updating our lockdown procedures.”

The teachers are also constantly updated on how to handle possible situations.

“We’re teaching them how to be the crisis managers. For a short time, they are the first responders,” MacNamara said of the training that police officers do with every staff member at the schools.

But many wanted just one question answered: Will the safety plans and security review done by the police be made public? Both MacNamara and Title said simply, “No.”

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