SCARSDALE, N.Y. – After the shootings in Newtown, Conn. on Friday, Scarsdale Schools Superintendent Michael V. McGill vowed to evaluate district safety protocols at all schools.
In a letter to parents sent out on Tuesday, McGill expressed his dismay over the tragedy and said that he is taking the situation in Scarsdale very seriously.
McGill said that neither the district, nor the police have any information indicating that there is any immediate or extended threat in the village.
“We’ll be reviewing the protocols with an eye to improvement in the very near future, but right now we can be certain we are already doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” he said. “What we can promise is a sincere effort to take the issues very seriously and to arrive at the most responsible decisions possible.”
The schools honored the shooting victims in different ways throughout the district, depending on the age of students. The high school observed a moment of silence at the beginning of the day on Monday, but McGill said “that seemed less appropriate where younger children were concerned.”
Principals at all schools were instructed to make sure that doors are locked where they should be, and that visitors to the elementary schools are admitted by buzzer only after they are identified on camera. Every building was visited in person on Monday to double-check on compliance.
“Everyone involved has to wrestle with the difficult balance between having a secure school and having a school that’s an accessible part of the community,” McGill said.
The district had already scheduled a lockdown drill for the spring, as well as a rapid-response drill involving a police tactical force. These drills have been conducted within the district for several years.
McGill said there will also be an increased police presence on school grounds. The department has made it a practice to pay random visits to the Middle and High Schools, and in January these “meet and greets” will be brought to the elementary schools.
“We believe children may appreciate uniformed officers’ periodic visits, understanding that they are simply part of the ordinary course and not occasion for concern,” he said.
Any student or adult in need of support can call the Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service during the upcoming holiday at 914-723-3281.