WILMINGTON, MA — At Wednesday night’s School Committee Meeting, Interim Superintendent Paul Ruggerio addressed the National School Walkout planned for March 14.
National organizers are encouraging students, teachers, administration, and parents to walk out of school on March 14 at 10am for 17 minutes — one for every person killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The event is meant to draw attention to the need for stricter gun control measures and an increase in mental health resources.
“We, as a school district, are aware of the planned national walkout event on March 14. We’re currently working on a plan,” said Ruggiero.
Ruggerio announced he will be meeting with superintendents and high school principals from several communities later this week to discuss the matter.
“I’ll be getting a lot more clarity about what a lot of other districts are doing,” said Ruggiero, who intends on having a plan in place by next week. “More information to follow.”
Several School Committee members expressed concerns over student safety issues that the walkout creates for middle school students.
“The high school and middle school are two separate entities,” said School Committee member Peggy Kane. “Please keep in mind how young the Middle Schoolers are — 10 and 11 — when developing your plan.”
“I’m concerned about the adequate supervision of students when they leave the building,” added School Committee member Julie Broussard.
In the wake of the Parkland tragedy, Ruggiero also provided the School Committee with a brief update on some of the security measures currently in place at Wilmington schools:
- The high school and middle school each have their own school resource officer.
- All school buildings are equipped with card readers. Staff members are issued a badge (card) to gain access to building
- All buildings have door buzzers/intercoms or video systems that are monitored by administrative assistants and security monitors.
- Non-staff members must be buzzed in, and are then required to sign in and are given visiting badge for the duration of their stay.
- All school doors remain locked at all times.
- The high school has 60 security cameras (48 inside, 12 exterior). The middle school has security cameras outside its student restrooms and 4 perimeter staircases.
- The high school and middle school have a rapture system. Licenses are run through the machine, which crosschecks various databases (e.g., sex offender registry). If an issue arises, the administration and police are immediately notified.
- Each school has 2-way radios that allows school officials to communicate directly with each other and with public safety dispatch.
- The school district was an early adopter of the ALICE school safety protocol. Each school runs ALICE drills twice a year.
- The school district has a district safety committee, consisting of police, fire and staff from each school, that meet monthly to review plans, protocols, and procedures. Each school building also has its own safety committee.
“The Wilmington Police and Fire Departments are tremendous. They’re often here within seconds when we call,” said Ruggiero. “We have an incredible relationship from the chief on down. We work very closely with them.”
Ruggiero announced that Woburn Street School Principal Jeffrey Strasnick, chair of the district’s Safety Committee, will make a presentation highlighting his group’s recent activities at the School Committee’s March 28 meeting.
Ruggerio also noted that Police and Fire will be walking through each school building over the coming weeks to check on various safety precautions.
“Thank you for keeping us at the forefront of school safety,” said School Committee member Jennifer Bryson, noting the district’s early implementation of ALICE. “We know a lot of districts are looking to us as one of the leaders.”
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