WESTFIELD – City and school district officials spent a lot of time talking this weekend about the horrific tragedy that occurred Friday morning in Newtown. Part of that discussion was how Westfield, as a community, could console a community whose soul has be ripped apart.
Another part of that discussion was focused on what could be done to ensure that tragedy is not repeated here.
Mayor Daniel M. Knapik said that he initiated discussion with Police Chief John Camerota on a process to identify steps the city can take to ensure school safety.
“As a community leader when something like Newtown occurs, it causes you to take pause,” Knapik said. “Chief Camerota is a wealth of information. What the city is going to do now, based on conversa5tions over the weekend, is hire architectural services to do an evaluation of our school buildings to see if we can’t harden entrances to improve safety and security.”
School Superintendent Suzanne Scallion said the district has already taken steps to heighten security.
Scallion said that after the start of the school day, only district staff will be allowed into the interior of the bu8ilding and that all visitors will undergo a visual inspection before being allowed to enter the building.
Scallion said a number of other standard operating procedures are under review and that the effort is to “reassure parents and students” that the city’s school facilities are safe.
Committeewoman Diane Mayhew suggested that the School Committee contract their Newtown counterparts with an offer of assistance, while Scallion said a district wide effort is being evaluated in light of the fact that the Sandy Hook Elementary School “will never be reopened” and that its students are being displaced to other communities.
Scallion said a number of relief funds have been established, but that the district is identifying those which most directly benefit of Sandy Hook students.