DOE reviews safety for its students


| mhayes@queenscourier.com |



Now, Bristy Roy is afraid that tragedy can strike her daughter’s school too.

In the days after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, Roy, whose six year old is in kindergarten at P.S. 31, told The Courier, “Now, I’m so scared.”

In the wake of the shooting, which took the lives of 20 children and six adults in sleepy Newtown, Connecticut, city parents, school administrators and the Department of Education (DOE) are responding accordingly, and making sure that students stay safe.

“The fathers and mothers in that situation . . . I’m still crying every time I watch it on the news,” Roy said.

Schools in the area have responded to the tragedy by reviewing safety procedures with teachers, that include having teachers sign up for text alerts and executing a mandatory procedure in which any adult entering the school must show photo identification.

DOE Chancellor Dennis Walcott issued a letter to schools citywide, assuring them that safety is of the utmost concern.

“We have been in constant communication with the NYPD and their School Safety Division,” said Walcott. “I encourage you to guide your staff and students in maintaining your school’s regular schedule and continuing to be sensitive to the needs of your students as they learn more about this loss.”

Roy’s daughter has been one of the students learning more about the shooting, and innocently asked her mother what had happened.

“Five years old, six years old, that’s a baby,” said Roy, grabbing her heart. “I felt like something happened to me, because I have a child the same age.”

When Roy picked her daughter up from school Friday afternoon, she said she just hugged her as tight as she could, thankful that she was safe.

“Anyone can just walk into that school,” she said, pointing to the P.S. 31 doors. “They need to really check every single person that walks in.”

Walcott said that administrators should provide a safe place to discuss what happened for any students that wish to talk, and that guidance counselors and school psychologists should make themselves available. Resources on how to deal with the situation have also been posted on the Principals’ Portal and the Guidance and Teacher pages of the DOE website.

The DOE also requests that every school community review their visitor control procedures as well as the general response protocols, covering shelter-in, lockdowns and evacuations.

“While this tragedy occurred outside the bounds of our city, I know you share my sorrow for the students, families and colleagues affected,” said Walcott.