In the wake of the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, Newport schools are taking more safety precautions, Superintendent John Ambrogi said on Monday.
“We needed to make sure we’re locking all the doors of every one of the elementary schools,” he said on Monday afternoon. Some doors had been unlocked and he had received “an abundance of caution.”
Despite making sure that all doors are locked, complete and total safety is never guaranteed, he admitted.
“Sandy Hook had all the procedures in place, including a buzzer system to get into the school. Unfortunately, when someone really wants to breach a school and are bent on doing it, as sad as it may be, it’s a reality,” he said.
The major issues at hand are gun control and mental health, he added.
“As an educator, I grieve at the loss of innocent children and administrators and teachers who gave their lives to protect their students,” Ambrogi said in a statement issued Monday afternoon. “As fellow educators, I know our thoughts are with the Sandy Hook Elementary School educational community and hope that somehow they are able to come back and persevere despite this terrible tragedy.”
Ambrogi said he spoke with Police Chief Gary Silva, who had implemented additional patrols primarily around the elementary schools on Monday.
In addition to the heightened police presence, Newport schools routinely practice lock down and evacuation drills several times a year. Ambrogi said he believes students know how to operate and what to expect in the event of an emergency.
“I do believe that as long as we continue to have the drills. . . I think we’re in good shape.”
The Pell Elementary School will have better safety measures than the current elementary schools, he said, including a buzzer system, locks on all perimeter doors and closed circuit cameras to monitor outside activity.
The following letter was sent out from the superintendent's office yesterday:
Dear Parents and Guardians,
As everyone knows, this past Friday, a horrific tragedy occurred in Newtown, Connecticut.
It appears as though no matter what safety precautions we take for our children, horrible situations can still occur. The Newport Public Schools will continue to have your children’s safety as our top priority. We are currently reviewing our procedures and practices, once again, in light of this terrible event and have made security changes this morning.
There are several websites which will enable you to get further information on how you may discuss this issue, should you choose to, with your children. One of the more informative websites is: http://www.nasponline.org. Additionally, I have attached some information to this letter that will give you ideas about discussing tragedies such as this. In the meantime, our thoughts are with the families of the students and staff of the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
John H. Ambrogi, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools