Sirens blaring and panicked parents and students at Winooski Education Center earlier this month thankfully turned out to be a false alarm, but what some officials are saying is a true wake-up call.
"Thank goodness there was a false alarm in Winooski. But it just shows that we need to do a better job, a more coordinated job of providing support for educators and schools to keep kids safe, as well as the staff and community safe in their schools," Vt. Education Secretary Armando Vilaseca said.
Administrators, officials, and law enforcement met Wednesday at the first Governor's Statewide School Safety Training Conference in South Burlington to address these issues. Improving communication by upgrading technology was on the top of the list. Some parents in Winooski were left asking questions about the school's communication procedure after complaining that they received a notification of the incident by voice mail hours later and wish they were told sooner.
"Getting blasts out to community, to parents and others to inform them of what is going on in the school. The old phone trees, they are outdated," said Keith Flynn, commissioner of the Vt. Department of Public Safety.
Vermont's rural area schools require additional procedures as students and administrators may be waiting longer for law enforcement to arrive.
"There is no cookie cutter fix. We need to have something that is going to accomplish something in the rural part of the state that it will not in a more urban part of the state," Flynn said.
Surveillance cameras, like the ones that captured the Winooski incident and alarmed doors are the norm now in Vermont schools. But with all the safety measures, like armed school resource officers wearing bullet proof vests, how do students maintain a sense of comfort during the school day?
"Just engage with students, interact with students and feel comfortable myself approaching students and talking to students," said Christopher Mason, a school resource officer in Middlebury.
Officials say communication is key to prevent threats, and that suspicious social media behavior should be taken seriously.
"Many times there were some members of the communities nationwide who may have been aware of some of these incidents through various social media outlets," Flynn said.
Officials say that as many plans and security measures they might take, prevention through open dialogue with students and parents is the best way to avoid tragic incidents.
One school principal tells us that keeping tabs on what is going on in school is a constant work in progress. Regular meetings about suspicious behavior can prevent tragedies. Any concern a student voices to an official should always be taken seriously.
Friday, April 18 2014 12:04 AM EDT2014-04-18 04:04:40 GMT
A Putney man was taken to the hospital after police say he was run over in a driveway. It happened this afternoon on Kimball Hill Road. Investigators say 63-year-old Eric Ladd was walking slipped and hitMore >>
A Putney man was taken to the hospital after police say he was run over in a driveway. It happened this afternoon on Kimball Hill Road.More >>
Friday, April 18 2014 12:00 AM EDT2014-04-18 04:00:59 GMT
Police are searching for clues after a homemade bottle bomb was found at a park in Keene New Hampshire. On Wednesday workers were doing spring clean-up at Wheelock park when they found a 55-gallon drumMore >>
Police are searching for clues after a homemade bottle bomb was found at a park in Keene New Hampshire.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:58 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:58:40 GMT
There's been a tragedy on the Burlington beltway Thursday night. Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltway. The name has been releasedMore >>
Burlington Police confirm that a 24-year-old Winooski man was killed in a motorcycle crash that shutdown the beltline.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:08 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:08:04 GMT
Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide. Police are still not releasing their names or the cause of death, but they say the victims are adults. StoweMore >>
A Stowe couple is dead after what police say was a murder-suicide. The news came as a shock to neighbors who say they never noticed any red flags. More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:58:26 GMT
A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury. Timothy Foley did appear in court Thursday in Middlebury. He wasn't there last time,More >>
A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:26:34 GMT
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to...More >>
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to 12 months.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:16 GMT
A teenager has been arrested for making a bomb threat in St. Albans. Police say the threat was made to Project SOAR, an alternative school, Wednesday morning. The building was searched and no bomb wasMore >>
Police say a teenager has been arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat to an alternative school in St. Albans.More >>