WESTFIELD, Ind. – Parents with children in Westfield Washington Schools are learning what new steps are being taken to ensure safety this coming school year.
School officials say safety is always evolving, but admit there were more sensitivities going into this academic year after the recent school shooting in Noblesville. Already, some parents said they like the district’s new approach.
“I’m really pleased,” said parent Kristen Clemens. “I think they’re taking a lot of steps. I think they’ve taken recent events seriously.”
In June, Westfield Schools held a forum to hear parent concerns, and noticed several common themes.
“Parents are just really wanting to know about entrances to schools and there were certainly some questions about metal detectors,” said Westfield Superintendent Dr. Sherry Grate. “And what were going to be some of those next steps that we’re going to be putting in place.”
Starting this academic year, Grate said the district will address all those concerns, and start using a new visitor registration system which requires background checks for anyone entering a school—even those just coming for lunch.
The city also plans to add more resources officers to schools, and says by the end of the year there will be four full-time school resource officers. They will also be installing police substations in every school.
“So a normal routine police officer who isn’t necessarily assigned as an SRO will have the opportunity to get out of their vehicle and go do their report writing inside an elementary school or a middle school,” said Westfield Chief of Staff Todd Burton, “and create an additional police presence.”
On top of that, all Westfield police officers will have live video feeds of school surveillance cameras accessible from their patrol cars.
There will also be a major push by the district to focus on mental and emotional health needs of children, and address any issues that kids may be dealing with before a problem gets out of hand.