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Copenhagen Central School reinforces security measures

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COPENHAGEN — Not even Santa Claus is immune to reinforced security measures at Copenhagen Central School stemming from the school shootings in Connecticut.

“Nothing changed dramatically in what we were doing, but I think we got complacent,” District Superintendent Scott N. Connell said.

The district has a single-point-of-entry system in place, with visitors during the school day directed to enter the kindergarten-through-12th-grade building via the main entrance off Washington Street, Mr. Connell said.

However, as a matter of practice, people sometimes have been allowed to come in through the district office, then enter the main portion of the building without signing in, he said.

Following a review of policies last week with state police, administrators and Board of Education members, Mr. Connell said, the district has tightened up its security. And, on Friday, even a man dressed as Santa Claus who attempted to get to a classroom party through the district office was directed to walk over to the main entrance, he said.

Over the holiday break, a second set of doors will be installed at the main entrance, allowing visitors to access the entranceway but not the rest of the building until signing in with the attendance officer, Mr. Connell said.

“That’s really the only physical change we’re planning,” he said.

Parents or guardians who bring in items for students or come to pick up children during the day will do so at the attendance office, rather than being allowed to walk through the building, Mr. Connell said.

“We’re keeping less traffic in the building,” he said. “It’s less of a distraction to the learning process, too.”

District officials are emphasizing the need for staff to wear identification badges at all times. State police during their visit to the school indicated that during a lockdown situation, they would take down anyone not wearing a badge, Mr. Connell said, admitting he wasn’t even wearing his at the time.

The district will continue to conduct lockdown drills several times per year, as it has been doing, he said.

Parents were sent a letter, also posted on the district’s website, informing them of the procedural changes, while staff members were sent a memo.

“It’s a delicate balance between being safe and being a prison,” Mr. Connell said.

As such, district officials are trying to establish and enforce reasonable safety measures without being too heavy-handed, he said.

“We don’t want kids to be fearful, but we want them to be safe,” Mr. Connell said.

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