District provides school safety, visitor procedure update

The Canajoharie Central School District has put enhanced safety measures and visitor procedures in place at the East Elementary School and additional steps are underway at both East Hill and the middle school.

During a meeting at East Hill Monday, Jan. 30, nearly 100 parents and community members turned out to hear updates and provide suggestions for increased security in the district. At the meeting Superintendent Deborah Grimshaw, East Hill Principal Stacy Ward and Canajoharie Police Department Chief Bryan MacFadden provided information and answered questions about concerns that were raised last week in regards to the visitor’s practice at East Hill.

The district has already modified the morning drop off procedures at the elementary school. During morning drop off, parents and guardians are allowed into the front vestibule only—through the first set of glass doors. An adult staff member now greets students in the vestibule, and only students are allowed through the second set of glass doors, which are locked. A staff member also monitors the door at the middle school each morning. East Hill no longer allows family or other visitors to join students for breakfast or lunch.

In addition, the district will implement the following changes:

• A safety monitor for East Hill will be hired to check visitors and students entering and leaving the building

• A teller style window will be installed at the East Hill entrance to enhance security

• New lanyards for existing ID badges will be distributed to allow staff and teachers to more prominently display identification

• New safety curriculum has been ordered to provide students with strategies they can use in unsafe or uncomfortable situations

• The district will update its communication protocol to provide more timely notification to parents in the event of an emergency or unusual event via the mass notification calling, email and text system, the website and traditional letters home.

“The district also recognizes the need to improve security at the middle school entrance, upgrade security cameras and establish a background check procedure for volunteers in our buildings,” Grimshaw said. “While the district was able to implement some changes right away to enhance security other changes will take time and we will keep parents informed as we move forward.”

Monday’s meeting was called to address concerns raised by East Hill Elementary students in regards to a visitor at school last week.

During breakfast, a family visitor present in the East Hill cafeteria interacted with students in a manner that made some of them feel uncomfortable. Students reported the situation to staff members, who in turn brought the matter to the attention of building and district administrators. The administrative team immediately began an investigation, contacted police and addressed the concern.