While many of the changes to the Bethany Community School's rules are technical, parents were particularly interested in the new rules about visitors.
Principal Rob Spino read the new rules to a group of parents at a forum in the school gym recently. The school serves pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.
Under the changes, enacted since the Dec. 14 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, all visitors must sign in, leave their identification in the office and pick it up when they leave.
Other changes are:
- Parents wishing to have lunch with their children must call ahead. Lunch visits will be limited to Fridays and there will be 15 spots a week.
- Classroom functions will be limited to students unless teachers ask otherwise.
- There will schoolwide events at each grade level and adults can attend by invitation only.
"We've had far less people in the building since December break. Everyone has to have a reason" to be in the building, Spino said. "We really have to have accountability."
"It takes all of us to make sure that the building is secure. If you don't see that yellow [visitor] tag, ask them if they're signed in," the principal added.
Before the Newtown shooting, adults sometimes outnumbered students in the classroom, he said.
"The number of adults in the building has gotten way out control," according to Spino.
One parent asked about birthday celebrations in the lower grades. Younger children appreciate their parents celebrating their birthdays in school, she said.
Other good visiting times were Valentine's Day and Halloween, according to parents.
Spino replied that the school tries to keep celebrations close to the beginnings of vacations to avoid interfering with the academic program. Parents are encouraged to take an interest in their children's activities, he added.
"We want to encourage the parents to be involved in what's going on," he said.
At the end of the forum, one parent said, "Everything you're trying to do, we appreciate as parents."
In general, the changes have been well received, Spino told the audience. "We've implemented changes and we've not had resistance from anybody. We're doing this for the safety of your children."
The principal said he will follow with a letter to the community.