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School safety in an era of caution

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In the 2017-18 school year, a lot of new safety policies have been implemented, most notably, the locked doors. These new policies raise one specific question. How safe are we at PHS?

On Oct. 24, a few students including myself met with Lori Dust, our co-principal, and officer Tim Williams to find out. As far as specific policies go, Dust and Williams couldn’t reveal too much information to us. They told us to be careful with what information to put in the Geyser. This by itself is a security measure.

Unfortunately the only procedures we were able to learn about was the locked doors, and the buzzer at the front door. These procedures are some of the more consequential policies in the school. They limit where a potential threat can enter the building and could stop an attacker from entering the building at all. The buzzer at the front door allows the front desk to regulate who is allowed into the school.
If someone looks suspicious or has a weapon, they can simply keep the door locked, and at the very least make it harder for the possible assailant to get into the building. Even if the intruder finds a way in, the locked doors and buzzer system give staff more time to react to threats.

The new tardy policy of locking classroom doors after passing also acts as a security measure. If an intruder did manage to enter the building, having the classroom doors already locked makes any action necessary by the teachers to secure their classrooms much faster. It removes the step of locking the doors once the teachers are notified of a threat. They can immediately move onto other steps to keep the students safe.

As far as students go, to keep the school safe, we need to follow the procedures laid out by the administration. Locking the side doors doesn’t do anything if the students let people in. It doesn’t matter if you know the person your letting in. Shooters are often students of the school. It does matter where the shooter enters the building.

Students should also report any potential threats to the administration. If a student thinks somebody has a gun, they should tell an administrator. If a student is worried about a student who is making threats, they should tell an administrator.

In the event of a shooting, students should follow teacher’s direction. They have been trained in how to deal with an active shooter scenario. Active shooter training has given the teachers the tools to respond quickly and effectively to threats within the school and has allowed them to find out how they function in high stress scenarios.

Recently, there was a group of police and law enforcement people who came in to assess our school’s security procedures. Their conclusion was that our school has better security than almost any other school in the state.

When I asked Officer Williams about how our security compares to other schools, he said, “other towns would do good to copy us.” This doesn’t mean that our security is perfect, and there is no reason for the administration to settle with safe enough. They are continuing to work out flaws in the system to make sure that we are as safe as possible at PHS.

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School safety in an era of caution