LYNNFIELD — School security will be a major focus area again this academic year, Superintendent Kristen Vogel said during the School Committee’s Aug. 30 meeting.

Vogel recalled that retired Superintendent Jane Tremblay originally formed the School Security Task Force in 2014. She said the team was expanded last January, and the group’s name was also changed.

The revamped District Security Team consists of Vogel, Police Chief Nick Secatore, Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director Glenn Davis, Middle School Principal Stephen Ralston, High School Assistant Principal Brian Bates, School Resource Officer Alex Doto, Police Capt. Chris DeCarlo, School Nurse Coordinator Toni Rebelo, Fire Lt. Jeff Fiorentino and DPW School Operations Assistant Director Anthony Fratoni.

“We have been meeting monthly since January,” said Vogel. “The purpose of the team is to organize, oversee and manage school safety and security by using a collaborative team approach.”

While Vogel said fire drills continued being held throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she said district-wide security drills were put on hold. She said the drills resumed during the second half of last year.

“We started with our medical emergency response drills,” said Vogel. “Toni really took the lead with that. There were existing plans, and we used the ones that we had. The drills involved police, fire and EMT responses. We did this in every single school last spring, and it was a huge undertaking. After each drill, they debriefed at the building-level to see what needed to change. That was brought back to the District Security Team so we could talk about it with first responders. In the end, we made some adjustments and tweaks. The medical emergency response drills have already been scheduled for this year, and each school will have two.”

Vogel said School Resource Officer Alex Doto resumed training the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) security protocols to educators, school officials, staff and students at the secondary schools this past spring. The school district adopted the ALICE program several years ago.

“One of the groups of students that undertook the Civics Project last spring created an ALICE drill video,” said Vogel. “ALICE is going to be using that to train older students as we move forward.”

Vogel said the District Security Team holds debriefing sessions after drills are conducted, and drills are revised “as needed.” She said the team will be developing updated interior and exterior maps for the elementary schools in the wake of the new additions being constructed.

“Police and fire will have copies of the maps,” said Vogel.

Vogel also said the District Security Team coordinated the update of exterior door numbers at each school.

Nursing Coordinator Toni Rebelo said holding the drills has helped school officials, educators and first responders prepare for emergencies.

“We were literally able to run everything from soup to nuts,” said Rebelo. “We collaborated with the Fire Department and Police Department. We called 9-1-1 with a scenario.”

Rebelo said faculty and staff knew the safety drills were going to take place, but they were not told when they would occur.

“It was a surprise to the staff,” said Rebelo. “They knew it was coming, but they didn’t know when. We felt that was important because that is how they learn. It’s those moments when it’s happening where we learn what works and what doesn’t. We learned a lot, and we were able to make some tweaks to the plans that we have. We will continue to do those moving forward.”

Rebelo also noted that the District Security Team will be looking to offer cardiopulmonary resuscitation training (CPR) to school staff this year.

“We are going to offer that to all staff who want to be trained,” said Rebelo.

Middle School Principal Stephen Ralston said schools are required to hold four evacuation drills each academic year.

“We were doing those pre-ALICE,” said Ralston. “They were garden-variety fire drills. We have continued to enhance those fire drills where we may block an exit, or might pull a student or two to test our accountability system to make sure that we are accounting for everyone once we exit the building. Last year at the middle school, one of the firefighters came over in his own car, and he and I pulled the alarm inside the school. We were able to time how long it took firefighters to respond to the middle school and where we would be at the evacuation point. That was a good test.”

Ralston also recalled that he, Vogel, High School Assistant Principal Brian Bates, Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director Glenn Davis and LMS adjustment counselor Marissa Botta are members of the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) School Threat Assessment and Response System (STARS) program. The program provides overall school safety awareness, school crisis planning, hazard identification and training programs.

“Little old Lynnfield has the most STARS members in all of Middlesex and Essex Counties,” said Ralston. “We host monthly meetings at the middle school.”

School Committee Chair Rich Sjoberg thanked the District Security Team for working to keep students, faculty and staff safe.

“Parents and guardians, first and foremost, want to know students will be safe,” said Sjoberg, who works as a private investigator. “That is why school safety is always a top priority, and is an evolving and fluid process. We know that our school buildings are an extension of your homes. And as students gain their educational foundation, we are fully committed to their success.”

Sjoberg inquired if the School Department will be applying for grants that will be included in a nearly $40 million school safety plan that Gov. Charlie Baker that will be filing in the coming weeks. The plan, which will be included in a supplemental budget, will invest in school safety initiatives and provides students, staff and first responders with the training to better respond to violent threats within schools.

“Definitely,” said Vogel.

School Committeeman Jamie Hayman asked Sjoberg if he is “comfortable” with the district’s security plans.

Sjoberg said yes.

“Other school districts look to us about how to respond to and plan for things,” said Sjoberg. “We certainly know things that are not public information that the schools have done or have in place to prevent a tragedy. We have not only done things to protect the perimeter of a building, we have given tools to the teachers and the students so they are prepared in the event a tragedy occurs.”

School Committee Vice Chair Stacy Dahlstedt recalled that Lynnfield High School students were able to “move about more freely” the last two years due to the pandemic. She inquired if security at the high school will be “tighter” this academic year.

Vogel said yes.

“All exterior doors are locked,” said Vogel. “The front entrance will be for students to come and go for arrival and dismissal. There will be alarms on exterior doors at all of the schools. If someone goes out of one of them, it will set off an alarm. That is new for us. We are starting the year with the expectation that students come and go through the front entrance. It was very different during the pandemic.”

Vogel also noted that removable speed bumps will be installed in the high school parking lot to prevent speeding.

“That has been a safety issue in the past,” said Vogel.

Dahlstedt said the town is fortunate to have a dedicated District Security Team along with developed security plans for all four schools.

School Committee member Kate DePrizio asked if elementary school teachers are using “age appropriate language” while discussing security. She also asked whether parents should reach out to principals or Vogel if they have any questions about school security.

Vogel said elementary school educators are using “age appropriate materials” when discussing school safety, and noted that Doto has created a presentation that is geared towards elementary school students. She said any questions about a specific school’s security plan should be directed to a principal.

“The principals are the ones who know the details about how they are approaching these drills and how they are talking to students about them,” said Vogel.

Sjoberg thanked Vogel, Rebelo and Ralston for giving a thorough presentation to the School Committee.

“We can’t thank you enough for all that you do for safety and security,” said Sjoberg.

— The State House News Service contributed to this report.