By John Mooney, Courtesy of NJ Spotlight
In the aftermath of the school shootings in Newtown, CT, last year, New Jersey’s schools stepped up their vigilance in a number of ways: tighter security at the front doors of schools, more detailed plans for how to respond to intruders, and even a few cases in which police were assigned to school buildings. A continued focus has been on conducting regular drills to simulate possible crises, ranging from the horrific prospect of an “active shooter” to bomb threats -- and even the old-fashioned fire-emergency drill.
A year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School left 26 people dead, 20 of them children, New Jersey officials say school security continues to improve, thanks to new training and screening procedures.
“Post-Columbine and now post-Sandy Hook, we are seeing our schools more stringent and more diligent,” said Anthony Bland, the school safety coordinator for the state Department of Education. “You can see the sense of urgency in what they do.”
New Jersey had long had some of the more expansive requirements for schools to conduct drills and have emergency plans, but last winter’s events brought still more attention, especially regarding the drills. Among the biggest changes has been the state’s stepped-up review of emergency drills, including unannounced visits to schools as they stage mock emergencies.
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