Connecticut Post (Sunday)

Fairfield to use COVID money for school security upgrades

- By Katrina Koerting STAFF WRITER

FAIRFIELD — Officials are looking to use federal COVID money given to Fairfield to improve school safety.

The selectmen unanimousl­y approved school officials’ request to use more than $355,000 awarded to Fairfield for its COVID response by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

How the money will be spent has not been determined yet. Superinten­dent Michael Testani told the selectmen that school security consultant­s he has worked with in the past are reviewing the district for free and will come back with recommenda­tions on what the district can do and possible costs associated with it.

He said the contractor­s are vetted and on the state contract lists.

Selectman Thomas Flynn said it was also important to work with the police department, which Testani said the district would continue to do.

“Over the past 10 years or so, we’ve done a significan­t security upgrade at the schools that’s been done in concert with the police department,” he said.

School officials applied for the federal money during the 2021 school year to be reimbursed for the personal protective equipment and other COVID preventati­ve measures it purchased, such as desk shields, school

board chair Jennifer Jacobsen told the selectmen at the recent meeting.

Now that the money has been awarded, the district is looking to use the money instead for school security upgrades. She said it would still apply to the same category the money was awarded under since it’s for building maintenanc­e.

Fairfield has long debated school security, including at a town hall back in 2018 where speakers shared concerns about vulnerabil­ities at the schools. That discussion echoed a similar one on the national stage following the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

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