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Darien will review security measures as appropriate

Published 1:03 pm, Monday, December 17, 2012
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Earlier today, Superintendent Stephen Falcone visited several Darien schools before attending a forum discussing how to speak with children about the Sandy Hook tragedy.

The event, held at the Darien Library, was coordinated by Greenwich-based Family Centers.

Falcone spoke to families, which included parents from Darien, Norwalk and Rowayton, among others, about the district's security procedures.

He said Darien schools run several different types of drills throughout the year. Drills include traditional fire drills, exiting the building, fire alarms and lockdown drills, which are typically called "lockdown seclusion."

"In the event of a lockdown seclusion, we are trying to get students away from the doors and away from windows and into an area of refuge," Falcone said. "Based on the different situations, that's oftentimes huddling in a corner. You find that area of refuge and wait."

The drills and procedures vary by situation. Falcone said in the event of a hurricane watch, students would stay away from the windows and huddle near the door, but if there's an intruder, the students would go far from the door and huddle in a corner out of sight.

"Depending on what's available in the room, some places have bathrooms that are adjacent, that is the area of refuge, that's where you go," Falcone said.

The degree of the lockdown can also be modified depending on the situation.

"We can close off our doors and nobody's allowed in, we station teachers at doors and patrol the halls," Falcone said. He added that, depending on the place and severity of the situation the district would call in police support if necessary.

"[The police] have been visible today," Falcone said.

In other lockdown situations, aside from refusing entry to the building, the district would cancel meetings and limit the traffic in the hallways.

Depending on the situation, the high school may not allow students to change classes, keeping them in one classroom for the rest of the day, Falcone said. Other precautions could include canceling outdoor for physical education classes.

Though there is a police officer at Darien High School every day, "there's a reality that having a police presence at all seven of our schools all day isn't possible," Falcone said.

"We've got to refine the way we operate as far as letting guests in because it's that balance between having a school community that invites parents and wants to create a connection of parents, kids and teachers and have that community, but having guidelines too," he said.

Falcone said the schools he visited earlier this morning doors were closed and people needed to be buzzed in.

Falcone said in light of Friday's tragedy, the district will look and make sure the procedures it has in place are done properly and look at everything from buzz-in procedures to making sure that doors aren't propped open.

mdavis@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4417; twitter.com/megdariennews