February 20, 2019
Shootings

Keeping kids safe in school has changed. Heres how Hingham is handling it – Wicked Local

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Hingham Police Chief Glenn Olsson said there is much more to worry about in protecting children at school today than 10 or 15 years ago. Today, police, fire and school administration work together as a Security Program Committee to ensure safety of students.

School safety is no longer an adult sending the bully to the principal’s office. To ensure safety in schools today, the administration must be trained in how to act in the case of a threat.

Hingham Police Chief Glenn Olsson said there is much more to worry about in protecting children at school today than 10 or 15 years ago. Police used to worry about a natural disaster or a power failure in schools, now after multiple school shootings in the U.S., police and schools train in anticipation of a school shooter or a need to evacuate.

The Hingham Police Department, Fire Department and school administration all work together as a Security Program Committee to ensure safety of students in this way. The committee met Wednesday night to update parents on training and emergency plans they have instated or are working on.

“This is the best effort I’ve seen in 38 years,” Olsson said. “It’s a great effort between the town agencies.”

Hingham schools are taking steps to become more safe for students with annual training, safety spaces and safety protocol, and updating their methods constantly.

Each year school staff completes Synergy 911 training, a concept equivalent to A.L.I.C.E. training. An acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate, the active shooter response program shows teachers how to make a decision for what is the best action given the circumstances: hide, run, or fight.

The staff also gets a refresher on the training mid-way through each year.

“Our goal is to have a place of learning where students can feel safe and happy,” Hingham Middle School Assistant Principal David Riordan said.

The fight option for the training does not necessarily teach hands on fighting, but could be as simple as throwing books Olsson said.

The schools also train students based on what is appropriate for each age level. Elementary age students learn to listen to adults and are exposed to drills. Middle school students train in lock down procedure and to stay in place, and high school age students learn the hide, run or fight technique.

In the case of an emergency at the school, the committee said it is most important for parents to stay away from all schools and not flood 911.

“You’re just going to become part of the problem,” Fire Chief Steve Murphy said.

Instead, parents should go the the emergency holding locations set by the police department:

High School — Wompatuck State Park
Middle School, Plymouth River Elementary School, South Elementary School — South Shore Baptist Church
East Elementary School — Nantasket Junction MBTA Station
Foster Elementary School — Bathing Beach Boat Ramp

Police also undergo annual firearms training that mimics the stress of a potential threat and receives updates on tactics from their Metro Law Enforcement Council SWAT officers.

Olsson also said parents should note that school safety is not just about anticipating an active shooter, they also train for other critical incidents that students would need to evacuate or relocate, or a medical emergency. The committee plans to begin discussion on emergency supply kits in each room in the case of a multiple hour lock down and having more officers in and out of the schools to check in.

“We are in a constant state of evolution and every emergency that presents itself will be different,” Director of Business and Support Services John Ferris said.

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