Manchester Public Schools increased police presence on Monday and also made counseling and support services available to students and staff in the wake of Friday's tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, according to Interim Superintendent Richard Kisiel. A letter was also sent home to parents outlining the school's emergency response procedures.
"Our emergency management plan includes emergency drill schedules covering fire, lockdown, and shelter in place procedures. Minimally, one fire and lockdown drill are overseen by Manchester’s police and fire departments. Seven Fire drills and three lockdown drills are held each school year. Teachers are provided with information and training in conducting these drills," Kisiel wrote in his letter to parents. "Teachers are issued a Manchester Public Schools Emergency Operations Manual. The manual describes specific procedures that teachers must follow in case of fire, hazard materials, release, gas leak, power outage, violent intruder, drive by shootings, weapons, hostage situation, bomb threat and other emergency conditions."
Kisiel told Patch Monday that there was an increased police presence at all Manchester public schools on Monday, which will continue throughout the week, and that he held a meeting Monday morning with all principals and other school staff on how to respond to students and staff who might need assistance coping with the tragedy. He said he advised staff not to discuss details of Friday's tragic shootings, which left 27 dead including 20 children, with young children, directly with younger student, but to instead direct them to counseling and support services if it were needed.
"They should avoid those kinds of discussions, particularly for the young kids," Kisiel said. "K through sixth (grade), in my opinion, let the parents deal with this. And if kids need help, they know where to get help."
General Manager Scott Shanley told Patch that the town had two additional patrol officers on duty Monday, and that all on-duty officers were instructed to stop by the town's public schools at least several times throughout the day.
In his letter to parents, Kisiel noted that each Manchester public school is secure by electronic entering devices and cameras, and that individuals entering schools are expected to check in with office personnel and state their name and nature of their visit when entering the building. Kisiel noted that Manchester High School and Arthur H. Illing Middle School are also equipped with security cameras throughout the building.
Kisiel said that the town's emergency management committee, which is made up of police, fire, school and town personnel, was already scheduled to meet for its regular quarterly meeting on Thursday, Dec. 20 and that security procedures will definitely be discussed in the wake of the Newtown shootings.
"The kids seem to be pretty resilient," Kisiel said when asked his opinion on the mood of students at Manchester public schools on Monday.
Kisiel's complete letter to parents has been attached to this article.