AGAWAM — To keep schools safe, Agawam is using a two-pronged strategy.

The first approach concentrates on the physical safety of students and staff, while the second one centers around ways to manage student behaviors that could lead to violence.

John Nettis, the district’s safety supervisor, and Marline DeJesus, social-emotional learning director for Agawam schools, shared revised and new strategies during presentations to the School Committee at its Jan. 9 meeting. They also explained some of the new partnerships the district has formed with organizations that help districts with school safety protocols.

Nettis said when he was hired eight years ago, he conducted assessments to determine what safety strategies were needed. One strategy he implemented and that the district continues to use — and refine — is ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. All staff receive ALICE training, lectures and drills to be ready in the event of an armed intruder.

In addition to ALICE training, the district also has partnered with the I Love U Guys Foundation. It offers safety training programs to respond to crises and for post-crisis reunifications developed in collaboration with public space safety experts.

“We got a lot of our information from I Love U Guys, especially about other types of emergencies,” said Nettis. “There are about 16 other emergencies other than mass public shooting events. It could be fire, gas, hazardous materials, those types of emergencies.”

In addition, the district is using safety protocols from Sandy Hook Promise, which has school safety programs. It also developed the no-cost Say Something program that teaches students to recognize the warning signs of people at risk of hurting themselves or others and how to say something to a trusted adult to get help.

“They have a phenomenal program that we follow a lot,” said Nettis.

Nettis told the committee that another goal for the 2023-24 school year is adding safety coordinators at schools — teachers who will receive a stipend to assist Nettis with keeping schools safe.

“They can work on individual schools, since every school is different,” he said. There are currently four safety coordinators, two from the high school, and two from the elementary schools.

The district is also in the process of rolling out the installation of entrance cameras at all schools. Nettis said the new cameras are an improvement over the current ones. With the new system, staff inside will be able to read an identification card shown by a visitor who is outside.

While Nettis talked about some of the immediate supports in reaction to crisis situations, DeJesus said in her presentation that her task is broader and focuses on creating a safe and supportive school atmosphere to prevent school violence. Some of the staff professional development workshops she provided have included student supports, identifying concerning behaviors and creating a safe school environment.

“As a district, we’re addressing school violence through the prevention lens. We go from helping and assisting students inside and outside classrooms to addressing risk factors prior to an individual experiencing any adversities to supporting individuals when they experience concerning behaviors to threat assessments,” she said.

DeJesus said the district is participating in the BRAVE Schools project from the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding. The center received a federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security to work with high schools and middle schools throughout Western Massachusetts.

“They’re looking to be active in preventing school violence,” said DeJesus. “Some of their objectives are to learn about those risk factors — those early warning signs — to understand what they actually are. We’ll build those to create integrated systems to support students who are struggling and build proactive violence prevention programming.”

This prevention model looks at creating a safe and supportive school climate. DeJesus said the district worked with the BRAVE project to form care teams at the junior high school and the high school. These teams attended BRAVE professional development programs.

Topics included identifying concerning behaviors, responding to vulnerable youth, using nonconfrontational and nonjudgmental approaches and deepening an understanding of the increase in using gaming and messaging platforming that hate groups frequently used to recruit youths.

She added that Agawam High School Principal Jim Blaine and Agawam Junior High School Principal Norm Robbins have developed a safe school plan that includes bringing in students’ voices and getting them involved. Additionally, DeJesus said the district has added diverse student voices by developing a safe and supportive school student advisory group at the high school.

“Their charge is to give feedback to our safe and supportive school teams in the buildings,” said DeJesus. “They’re the ones who will tell us what’s not going to work or what’s going to work. We really need their voices and information to continue some of the projects we’re doing.”

The district recently fostered a relationship with the Sarah Wheeldon, an FBI agent in Boston who is the threat manager coordinator. According to DeJesus, Wheeldon will use her expertise to help with some training as well as serve as a consultant.

Currently, Agawam manages threat assessments with teams in each school as well as with school resource officers and the Police Department. In late January, Wheeldon will meet with the district administrators to discuss best practices for threat assessment team structures and their roles. In early spring, Weldon will return to work on threat assessment planning, training and intervention.