APS - Special Update

From the Office of the Superintendent - September 1, 2022

Dear Amesbury Families,

Good afternoon,


I wanted to reach out to you to share a facilities challenge that we are experiencing at Amesbury High School. As of this time of notification, the sound repeater which is embedded in the fire alarm system, is not working properly. What I mean by this is that once the fire alarm is tripped, there is limited sound that notifies the occupants to leave the building. I want to be clear. The fire detection system, the sprinklers, and the notification system that alerts the fire department ARE all working. In addition, the strobe lights that notify us that there is an emergency in the building also work. In short, it is the sound that is lacking.


This issue is due to the end of equipment functional life span as opposed to a failure to maintain the equipment. Over the past two weeks, Amesbury Public Schools has worked closely with Amesbury Interim Fire Chief Jim Nolan and his staff as well as the Mayor’s office. We have explored many options and have brought several different alarm companies in to attempt to find a temporary solution to this issue. We are in the process of putting together the necessary documentation to collect bids to fully replace the system. We will do this as quickly as possible.


We will continue to work with companies to find a way to find a temporary resolution to this problem so that we have a working sound system. However, in the case that we are not successful in this endeavor prior to the start of school on Tuesday, September 6th, we will be taking the following steps to ensure the safety of our students and our staff.


  • The high school will be staffed with two firefighters on firewatch.

    • Tuesday, from 7 am - 9 pm

    • Wednesday - Friday from 7 am - 7 pm

  • We have connected a manually operated alarm and will utilize a recorded message over the PA system to alert students and staff in the schools. This will be done by the two firefighters on watch.

  • After the first week, once we ensure that our process works as intended, we will train and utilize an individual to watch and notify staff and students in the event of an emergency. That person will be on duty during school hours.

  • Early next week, we will be developing the plan for after school hours to safely allow activities to occur. Since the firefighters will be at AHS all of next week until at least 7, we will not need to make adjustments for evening activities. We will share those details once they are finalized.


I am genuinely appreciative of the collaborative work that has happened in order to allow AHS to open safely as scheduled.


As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions. I can be reached at elizabeth.mcandrews@amesburyma.org.


Thank you,


Elizabeth McAndrews


Superintendent