A day after at least 19 children were murdered at a school in Uvalde, Texas, communities in Massachusetts are grappling with how to keep children safe and talk to them about the shooting. At least two communities increased police presence at their schools Wednesday.
The Tewksbury Police Department and the Medfield Police Department wrote about the added presence at their respective school districts on Twitter and offered their condolences to those in Uvalde.
Medfield police emphasized that there is no current threat to the community. The added patrols were intended to help families and school staff feel more comfortable.
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Tewksbury Police Chief Ryan Columbus said his department would have an added police presence for similar reasons Wednesday.
He reacted to the horror in Texas on social media: “What has happened in Uvalde, Texas is incomprehensible. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with all those who are suffering from this senseless tragedy. It just doesn’t make any sense. These kids didn’t deserve this."
The school shooting in Texas prompted a lot of communities overnight to reconsider their immediate security needs.
"We just wanted to make sure the parents feel safe sending their kids off to school so we’re going to have a presence here and most likely to the end of the school year," Columbus told NBC10 Boston.
"Our schools are a sacred place, our kids are sacred. We just want to make the parents feel safe sending their kids off to schools," said Columbus, a parent himself, to reporters Wednesday.
In Boston, public school principals were asked to review existing school safety plans with their faculty and staff -- the district does intruder drills with them, not students, Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said.
"Today is a day I think where they'll be caring for their students and doing circles and trying to help their students manage through what they saw yesterday," Cassellius said.
She, police and Mayor Michelle Wu noted that there's a close partnership between school staff and the Boston Police Department.
"I have full faith in our city departments, in the amount of preparation, planning, training, coordination that goes into every single day of the year to be the most prepared that they could be for the unthinkable. But in Boston, we do not ever want to even get there to use that preparation or training," Wu said.
She noted that the best way to do that "is to build a welcoming community where everyone is supported, everyone can reach their fullest potential and have what they need to thrive."
At Chelsea High School, one of nine public schools in the district, they work closely all the time to try and protect staff and students.
Law enforcement training for an active shooter at Chelsea High is part of the city's regular preparations, which now include the fire department.
"Law enforcement has to rapidly engage. They don’t wait for the arrival of SWAT anymore. From the first officer, they are pursuing the threat while fire and EMS are preparing to control hemorrhage," Chelsea Fire Chief Leonard Albanese explained.
Schools in Attleboro, a slightly smaller district than Chelsea, have active shooter training as well as gun shot detection technology that tells police when a gun is fired in school. The district says it's being very proactive with school safety.
"We’re able to detect any type of active shooter in our school system within seconds," Attleboro Police Chief Kyle Heagney said.
Law enforcement and educators do seem to have developed proper protocols, but that's of little comfort when children are shot dead in their classrooms.
School districts say they will continue to evaluate their safety plans because unfortunately it doesn't look like this problem is going away any time soon.