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In wake of Conn. shooting, Medford schools to bolster security

Posted by Jarret Bencks  December 17, 2012 09:58 AM

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Medford schools plan to tighten security in the wake Friday's elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., according to Superintendent Roy Belson.

"While our assessment is that our schools are safe, we have decided to take additional action steps to increase coverage and strengthen rules that will add an extra dimension to our security at all school buildings," Belson said in a written statement.

Those steps include adding uniformed and plainclothes police officers at all schools; assigning school staff to security watches; limiting entry to the front of schools and updating security cameras, Belson said. The changes were announced late Sunday, after Belson met with Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn and police Chief Leo Sacco.

"We believe that these enhanced measures can be accomplished without compromising a conducive learning environment and a desirable school climate," he said. "However, of necessity, these actions will make it less convenient for entry and visitation to our school sites."

Belson said parents should limit their childrens' exposure to the coverage of the shooting and its aftermath.

"Young children are negatively impacted by multiple viewings of scary events," he said. "Do not dwell on this or other such incidents. Answer their questions, but don't give more information than is necessary."

In Somerville, there were no plans for heightened security because police already monitor the schools closely, Chief Thomas Pasquarello said Monday morning. Some of their measures include having police officers at entrances in the morning and afternoon, and a rotation of marked and unmarked cruisers patrolling school zones, he said.

Two police officers in bright yellow jackets in front of the entrance of John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Somerville Monday morning.

"A lot of parents are happy to see to see police around this morning," he said.

Deneen and William Scully walked their 10-year-old son to school Monday morning in Somerville. They explained Friday's shooting to their son over the weekend, but didn't go into too much detail with him, Deneen Scully said.

"We talked with him about it briefly and then we just kept the TV off," she said.

Friday's events were on the mind of Edite Gois of Somerville as she unloaded kids from a gold minivan at John F. Kennedy Elementary school Monday morning.

"Everybody is scared," she said. "Every kid is talking about this, they know what happened and they are scared too."

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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