Are New Jersey kids safe at school?
It was hardly a thought back in the day, but now we have to wonder – are our kids safe at school?
Fortunately for New Jersey parents, the Garden State is somewhat of a leader in keeping schoolchildren and buildings secure.
New Jersey is one of the few states, for example, that require regular security drills in addition to fire drills.
Frank Belluscio, deputy executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association, said New Jersey also has required administrative response procedures, as well as crisis planning.
“Parents should be assured that we do have very strong security procedures in place in our schools,” Belluscio said.
But those security procedures can vary from district to district and school to school.
According to a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Education, a number of districts have been making changes to “school architecture,” especially in older buildings.
“These changes can include things like having controlled access for visitors, or installing tougher doors or locks,” the department said. “Also, you may see many schools using ID or swipe cards, and you see school officials working very closely with local law enforcement.”
Just this summer, nearly every school in Gloucester County’s Washington Township was outfitted with security vestibules at each entryway, providing an extra set of doors and clearance before a visitor gets full access to the school.
“It’s just added security that, I think, gives everybody a real sense of safety and more peace of mind,” said Superintendent of Schools Joseph Bollendorf.
Even if parents come to drop off lunch or a book, Bollendorf said, there’s no reason to buzz them through the second layer. The material can be left in the vestibule for a staff member to grab.