Brick Township schools are re-evaluating their security protocols in the wake of a shooting at a Connecticut school that left 20 students dead.
The Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT left parents across the country on edge sending their children to school Monday, but plans for security to be beefed up in Brick were made over the weekend.
Superintendent Dr. Walter Uszenski said plainclothes police officers made visits to schools on Monday, and marked police cars patrolled school areas. Uszenski said he made the plans with Police Chief Nils R. Bergquist over the weekend, and more security measures are in place for the remainder of the week that will not be made public.
Uszenski said he also spoke with each school principal over the weekend, and made sure counselors were available throughout the district if needed.
But Uszenski said long-term plans for security will be paramount going forward, and he may request additional funding to perform some repairs in schools later this week when the Board of Education meets.
In some schools, he said, there are broken doors and malfunctioning locks.
"We have doors that you could kick down, and they need to be replaced immediately," Uszenski said. "This is something I wanted to start yesterday."
Uszenski said he will meet with Bergquist this week and go over the district's emergency plans. He also plans on forming security committees at each school.
He'll also propose giving certain staff members in each school walkie-talkies that connect directly to the police department for use in an emergency, from anywhere on schools grounds.
"In Connecticut, kids were saved by the actions of the teachers," said Uszenski. "They used the same drills we do."
Board President Sharon Cantillo proposed looking into providing more resources toward the mental health aspect of education.
"I think that, maybe, we need to devote more resources to our child study teams, guidance counselors and mental health professionals to identify problems when children are younger," said Cantillo.
"It needs to go beyond just the physical security," she said. "We need to think about that, because I think that was a large part of what happened in Connecticut, in Columbine and in every mass tragedy. People tend to bury that under the rug, but it's the elephant in the room."