AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Public Safety announced earlier this week security would be increased at and around the State House in Augusta ahead of the presidential inauguration Wednesday.

And at Wednesday night’s Augusta Board of Education meeting, Superintendent James Anastasio said the district was focused on maintaining student safety in the event protests occur.

He said he had discussions with Augusta police Chief Jared Mills to be prepared for any threats to safety or security.

City schools are at the top of the chief’s list, according to Anastasio. Since Augusta does not have in-person learning Wednesdays, Anastasio he said he did not think safety issues would arise for students.

“The good news is that I’m not sure if anything will happen in Augusta, Maine, and if there will be a demonstration of protest, it’s going to happen on a day that we don’t have students,” Anastasio said. “For that, we are lucky.”

The discussion came a week after supporters of President Donald Trump rioted at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Since then, the FBI has warned of the potential for attacks next week in each of the 50 states, especially in the state capitals.

Anastasio said a plan is in place if disturbances or acts of violence were to occur on days when students have in-person learning.

“If anything were to happen while we were in school, that would come to us quickly,” he said. “We (he and Mills) had a discussion on how it would impact, and it would be through bussing. If we had an issue and another issue with them going home, we wouldn’t send them in harm’s way.”

Anastasio told the school board communication would be immediate if something were to happen, including sharing information police and parents.

As of Thursday, Anastasio said Augusta Schools were not planning to add security next week.

In her first meeting as the newly elected chair of the Augusta School Board, Amanda Olson offered advice Wednesday night related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol. She said adults in the community must lead by example.

“(Children) may see a few minutes of horror on the national news each day, and we have to remember that most of their time will be spent at home — home in the physical sense, home in the community sense and home in schools,” Olson said. “We are what they see most.”

She said adults should be teaching children about “resilience” and how to “lead with integrity.”

“We need to teach students that our differences are what should bring us together, not apart,” Olson said. “The children have a role in this nation, and what they see now will impact their role.”

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