School on lockdown: Understanding the impact of increased school security
Going to school is starting to make students feel more nervous by the day. Not because of their upcoming test or their scary english teacher, but because of the fear they face as they walk through the doors every morning, not knowing if they’ll ever walk back out.
With all of the issues recently with safety within schools, the topic of security in schools has grown in popularity and became a more pressing issue in both the media and school settings. Both parents and students are concerned if schools are really safe environments for students and staff members.
The school takes all threats seriously to ensure that every student and staff member is safe.
“The first thing we always do is anytime we get information, we immediately involve law enforcement. If there is ever a threat, real or rumor, we’re going to involve law enforcement,” Smith said. “We just try to follow up with communication and make sure that people know that the building is safe.”
Other incidents helped open the eyes of students and parents that threats in the school are legitimate relevant issues.
Junior Kaleigh Farrell said that after Parkland, she was more nervous to come to an area with such a big population. This was a wakeup call because this kind of thing happens so frequently.
The safety procedures at the high school are continually changing and improving to guarantee that there are no serious threats at OOHS.
“We’re constantly looking for what’s the new thing, what can we change,” Battistone said. “Just because it worked last year doesn’t mean it works this year. Just because it worked last week, doesn’t mean it works this week so we’re constantly looking for ways to improve and getting feedback from all parties involved.”
Some students find themselves being concerned about how secure the school is during the school day.
“I think that having a sturdier set of rules and regulations put in place would make the students feel safer,” Farrell said. “Any student can come in from the patio by knocking on the doors... but what if it wasn’t an Orange student?”
In the spring of last school year, the high school started to lock the athletic wing doors at the beginning of first period to make sure that only people who are supposed to be in the school are in the building.
“We are trying to limit points of access to come into the building during certain times of the day because unfortunately, somebody could just walk in. I know that makes it harder for those that park in the junior lot. It’s a little bit farther walk, but overall, we have over 2,100 kids so our goal is safety,” Battistone said.
Being aware is one of the key parts of keeping all of the students at OOHS safe.
“You have to always be aware of anything that could spiral or lead to something bigger. If you look at a lot of the situations of school shootings that have happened in the past, I think there were signs, there were pretty visible signs that were either ignored or just not handled appropriately,” Smith said. “Anything that you see or hear that makes you feel uncomfortable, whether you think someone is joking or not, the first step is always to make an adult aware.”
While students trust the people in the school, they find themselves unsure if they can trust the people coming in and out of the building during the day.
“I think the school is safe in the sense that I have teachers I trust, and friends I can rely on. However, I do find it a recurring trend where I feel unusually on edge, and not very safe, in more open areas of the school,” Farrell said.
The district is taking further precautions to keep the schools safe by starting a new district safety position and helping teachers practice how to handle a threatening situation.
“We’re willing to spend some money to make sure that it continues to be safe,” Smith said. “We had a training for our emergency response team before the building opened this year with law enforcement. We ran a stimulated active threat here in the building so we have an idea of what should happen.”
Farrell said that it is important to have conversations about serious issues to prepare students for whatever may happen.
“School, to me, is a place to learn. It is a place that should be secured, a place where problems are taken seriously. I understand that it’s a scary thing to think about, but I think we need to have more in-depth conversations about dangers in schools; whether it be from natural forces or other people,” Farrell said.
To keep the school safe, everyone must be alert and keep their eyes open for possible threats or things that could put students in danger.
“We all have to do it together, it’s not just the administrators or staff, it’s kids too,” Smith said. “Not propping doors, being aware, saying things when they see something, it takes everybody and I think everybody’s committed to it.”