Fast Guard

Michelle Merlin

Contact ReporterOf The Morning Call

In a letter to students, staff and parents, the Easton Area School District announced Thursday it will post armed officers at each of its schools.

And Emmaus High School students were told in an email Friday, that they would be limited to two entrances when they arrive at school in the mornings.

Those security measures and others at Lehigh Valley schools come in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting that left 17 students and staff dead and prompted a nationwide student movement calling for stricter gun control.

The Easton district has six armed police officers and 15 unarmed security officers, said John Remaley, the district’s safe schools supervisor. He said Palmer Township provides an additional four school resource officers, one of whom is armed.

The armed officers are primarily posted at the district’s high school, middle school, and academy, and go to the elementary schools on a rotating basis. The 10-12 new part-time officers would be focused on the elementary schools, Remaley said.

“That’s certainly an area where we can improve and maybe tighten things a little bit and give everybody a peace of mind based on current situations,” he said. ‘”We’ll provide security and a safe environment for our students, but we also want to be able to do that and not make our schools feel like an armed fortress.”

School board President George Chando said the new hires would cost the district between $250,000 and $300,000.

“The ultimate outcome is to make sure that the district and the board are providing the very best that they can to secure the buildings,” he said.

Students and staff also will be taught how to react if there’s an intruder on campus. The district will embrace the “run, hide, fight” philosophy recommended by federal agencies. It encourages people to flee from an active shooter or hide behind something that could stop a bullet, or — as a last resort — confront the shooter and fight.

“As we all know by now, reacting to a potential school fire is far different than reacting to the intrusion of an unauthorized person within the school environment,” read the letter, which is signed by Superintendent John Reinhart and Assistant Superintendent Alyssa Emili.

Over the last several years, Easton made several security changes, including added cameras, security vestibules at building entrances and doors that only open after someone swipes a badge as well as other changes. It also developed an electronic form where people can anonymously report potential threats to school safety, the letter said.

District officials would not divulge all security measures as a way to “protect [their] integrity,” they noted in the letter.

School districts across the Lehigh Valley have been reviewing their safety measures in the wake of the Florida shooting. The Allentown School District held a school safety meeting where Superintendent Thomas Parker announced the district created an anonymous tip line and is reassessing its security.

East Penn School District limited the number of entrances Emmaus High School students can use in the mornings to two, according to an email sent to parents Friday.

Starting Monday, the primary drop-off point for Emmaus High School students will be the locker commons and auditorium entrance. Students who park in the student lots, who are dropped off by parents and who arrive by bus will enter through those doors.

Superintendent Michael Schilder released a memorandum to students and parents after the Florida shooting, saying administrators are “continually discussing and updating our procedures” and working with area police departments.

He declined to answer questions about changes to the Emmaus High drop-offs, citing safety concerns.

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Twitter @michellejmerlin


Reporter Carol Thompson contributed to this story.

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On – 01 Mar, 2018 By Michelle Merlin