When schools are struck by tragedy as they were at Noblesville Middle School, Santa Fe, Parkland, or Sandy Hook where a gunman enters a school and opens fire, we are all left asking: “What more could have been done to avoid this?” It is an important question, and you should be pleased to know that schools work on addressing it every year and throughout the year – not just in response to tragedies.
Just like a bank vault, the airport, or your home, limiting access to our secured area is a key aspect to keeping it safe. From 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. we have 100% of our exterior doors locked. As most of you know, we only let people in using a camera and buzz in system. We continue to investigate technologies that could improve our safety from exterior threats, but knowing who is in our building and strong compliance to our safety plan makes this time of day relatively safe.
As the school administrator that stands out in front of the building most days during arrival and dismissal and as a certified School Safety Specialist, I can tell you that those times are the times I worry about. We unlock our fortress and we don’t have the same level of control over coming and going. We have procedures we use to try to make these times safer –
- it’s why we have changed the drop-off and pickup route
- it’s why we have restricted use of the parking lot nearest the building
- it’s why we insist no adults but school staff approach the north doors
- and it’s why we put staff at those locations to identify possible security threats.
As the weather turns cooler, students (and adults) may complain about walking the length of the sidewalk rather than being dropped off at the door. But as each attack on a school gives us more information of how to identify threats, I appreciate everyone’s assistance in improving the safety of our fortress by being patient and considerate of our efforts to exercise more control in the areas approaching our unlocked points of entry at arrival and dismissal.
I hope understanding the thought process we go through helps you support the safety measures we have in place. Here is a short list of ways you can help make our school safer. Sadly each one of these ideas is inspired by a tragedy at another school.
- Maintain a low speed in our parking lot at all times. Follow the posted routes during drop off and dismissal. Don’t cut through parking spots and drive unpredictably – pedestrians have the right of way at all points of the parking lot.
- When you need to visit the office, please choose a time other than arrival or dismissal. You likely want us to limit contact your child has with adults we haven’t screened, and likewise adults should not slide into the school among the students.
- Don’t approach a bus to communicate with a bus driver any closer than you need to. Our school is a fortress that we protect the students inside, and likewise a bus is also a fortress that the bus driver protects the kids inside. 99% of parents would never think of being a security threat, but it isn’t fair to ask bus drivers to determine which situation might be that 1%.
- If you carry a firearm, please be careful to secure it out of sight in your locked vehicle when on school property. Accidentally approaching the school with a firearm can cause a real security response that can be easily prevented.
- If we were ever to be in an emergency situation, while you may be focused on getting your child, please be considerate of the procedures we have in place to keep students from being snatched by the wrong person.
- If you are a visitor in our school, please stay in the area or areas you have been allowed to visit. While any particular parent or guardian may be trustworthy, we cannot say this for 100% of people that may try to gain access to our school, so we are always careful.
- Between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. – only school staff members are allowed on or around the playground. During special events – all adult volunteers MUST be cleared through the office and wear a badge to participate in outside activities.