Thursday, January 21, 2021

Local News

VRHS Responds to Threat from Student

Following information about possible threats against Valley Regional High School (VRHS) made by a VRHS student on Oct. 1, Superintendent of Schools Brian White sent an email to parents regarding the incident and followed up the conversation at the Oct. 3 Joint Board of Education Committee Meeting.

White’s email did not reveal any specifics of the incident, though he explained that the Connecticut State Police Troop F in Westbrook was contacted immediately and responded to the incident. Troop F determined that there was no credible threat to the high school.

At press time, police were pursuing charges and taking law enforcement steps against the individual and disciplinary action was taken by the school.

White’s email stated, “We will continue to collaborate closely with Troop F and our local law enforcement to ensure that our students and staff continue to be safe.”

As a supportive measure, an increased police presence at VRHS was put in place and the school administration took appropriate steps to minimize disruption to the school environment.

White did field numerous phone calls about the incident from concerned parents and he explained at the Joint Board of Education Committee Meeting that the district will be rolling out a new safety protocol called ALICE, an acronym that stands for: Alert: Get the word out that a threat exists; Lockdown: Secure a place to stay as much as possible as a starting point to buy time; Inform: Give constant, real-time information throughout the building using all available technology; Counter: This is a last resort. Individuals are unable to escape. Countering may be as simple as creating a distraction to allow opportunities to escape; and Evacuate: The goal is to move students out of the danger zone.

According to White, this preparation plan is designed to proactively handle the threat of an intruder or active shooter event and touches on methods for each unique situation of school safety training. The methods are based upon mass shooting research, trends, and patterns.

Teachers in the district were trained in this new safety protocol last spring and now that the school year is underway, more about this training, and how it will be rolled out in the schools and made appropriate for all age groups will be forthcoming in the near future.

“There is a lot more to come about this new safety training. It’s part of a bigger safety picture, which involves k-12 students in the district,” said White. “This is an opportunity for us to modify our existing practices and make improvements. We will have thoughtful communication with all parents about this new training soon.”

White continued by commending the staff at the VRHS, as well as his administration and the efforts of the State Police in dealing with the threat situation.

“This threat was taken very seriously and was investigated quickly to ensure that all our schools, students and staff remained safe,” said White.

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