Not even two whole months have passed in 2018 and there have already been eight school shootings not including the horrific shooting at Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day. I’m not going to talk about why the young man in question was sold an automatic weapon, or how he suffers from mental illness. I want to discuss school safety. How safe are our schools?
I am a 7th grade teacher at a middle school in the Bay Area. Today in response to these shootings our superintendent sent out an email expressing how saddened she was by this tragedy and emphasizing the safety plans that each school site has in place in our district. My school regularly practices our required drills.
Required drills include:
- Fire Drill
- Earthquake Drill
- Intruder Drill
- Shelter-in-Place (examples for this Drill would be a chemical spill or a bomb threat)
Our superintendent closed her email asking the community to stay vigilant and to report any concerns or suspicious behavior. The email was exactly what I would expect from any superintendent of a school district to send out in the aftermath of a tragedy such as this. Now I’m going to be completely transparent.
Because of our mild weather conditions, many schools in California have open campuses. This means that classrooms are not contained in a secured building. They are outdoors units connected in a wing or corridor fashion. My middle school reflects this style. Here comes my transparency. Even with all our safety plans and drill practicing, nothing would be able to prevent a school shooting at my school. Anyone can walk onto my school campus at anytime during the school day. There several entrances/exits and the school is surrounded by your typical chain link fence which is very easy to scale. Yes we have security cameras, but there isn’t anyone perched watching them diligently throughout the day. We use them “after the fact” for example looking back to see who was involved in the fight at lunchtime. We have campus supervisors, but their job is to supervise students when they are changing classrooms and at lunch.
This is the unfortunate and sad truth. School shooting scenarios are always in the back of my mind, but you can’t let it consume you. I just think about it more when shooting tragedies occur. I will continue to be aware and always have an eye out. I am after all responsible of all my kiddos. Their safety will always come first.
Thank you for reading.