WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — School officials and parents came together in Warwick Thursday to talk about safety while police continue to investigate a second threat made against students in three local communities.
As Warwick, Cranston, and Johnston react to a second threatening letter sent to police, one woman who was part of the worst elementary school disaster in recent history was spreading her message.
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“I think one of the greatest ways to calm that fear as a parent is to be involved,” said Michele Gay.
Gay’s 7-year-old daughter, Josephine, was one of the 26 children shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2013. On Thursday, she took a message of empowerment and collaboration to the annual Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) School Safety Conference.
“It’s the people that really are the power of making the community safer,” she said. “Not just the communication in an emergency, but also communicating beforehand.”
That’s one thing the Cranston School District said they’ve been doing.
“Throughout the past two years, we’ve worked very closely with the Cranston Police Department in a very concentrated effort to improve our school security,” said Asst. Superintendent Jeannie Nota-Masse. “In the wake of these threats, the communication has been on a daily basis.”
The threats against the three school districts sent a sign to other districts around the state. After the first threat was received, Providence administrators met immediately and had a plan in place for the following day.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a wake-up call, because we try to be proactive in Providence. We’re not reactive, just waiting on the next situation,” said Andre Thibeault, director of operations for Providence Schools.
Thibeault was one of the speakers at the RIEMA conference. He said one thing each school district needs to know is their risks, and analyze those risks before making a plan.