School shooting causes Har-Ber to take second look at safety

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“I swear to God, I would take a bullet for them,” said assistant athletic director Chris Wood in an address about school safety and work ethic to the whole senior class Jan. 9.

After events like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, it is only natural that the nation is left in a state of shock. For a while, the anti-gun bandwagon overflowed with new supporters as well as people campaigning for easily accessible psychological care.

As for the lingering psychological effects around the nation, schools seem to be where it hits close to home on various grounds.

“Not again,” thought English teacher Susan Felder.

On a personal basis, no mater what level of schooling you enter, you’re going to encounter teachers who have children of their own in the same grade and age as the Newtown victims. And as teachers, they know the mechanics of how schools work.

“I cried at some point for the next five days,” said Mrs. Felder who has a first grader at Walker Elementary School. “I really just wanted to go get my child from school.”

The situation also prompted other teachers to have to put themselves in the situation and to think about what they would have done.

“I thought it was terrible,” said math teacher Jillian Young. “As a teacher, it really hit home, and at school you feel safe but you’re really not, and it made me think of what I would do in the same situation.”

After taking those views into consideration, teachers and administrators also have to turn their attention to safety throughout the school.

In many classes and clubs, students are working in the hallways on projects and assignments, as the majority of their classwork cannot be done successfully inside of a classroom.

For example, debate students often have to go to the hallways in order to practice, as a single classroom can not handle that many students debating at one time.

As an result, debate coach Ta-Neisha Marshall occasionally experiences complaints.

“Before the shooting, I always thought that it was an issue of others finding my students disruptive,” said Mrs. Marshall. “Now, I realize it’s a safety issue and that I need to make sure that I am accountable for them by knowing where they are and knowing that they’re doing what they should be doing.”

The same applies to students who do have permission to work in the halls during a designated class period. The importance of students having their IDs, credentials, and hall passes is going to be focused on a lot more, as these help identify if someone is supposed to be in the building or doing what they are supposed to.

Around the nation elementary schools have been and are currently installing extra security measures such as cameras and doorbells at the front entrances. Security measures for upper grade levels such as high schools are being evaluated due to the fact that many students travel on and off campus for various school activities, such as athletics.

As the assistant swim coach, Young also has some concerns she’s noticed during school hours.

“Traffic in the gym lobby needs to stop if we really want to be secure,” said Ms. Young. “As a new teacher, it makes me nervous because I don’t know faces.”

There are also questions when it comes to security measures for students who are either outside of the building on campus, or completely off.

“There’s so many situations, and we need to address those as a staff. In regards to when we have athletic kids running outside on campus or in a completely different place, like when the swim team is at the Jones Center. Coach Brown and I need to find out the protocol for this,” said Ms. Young.

Upcoming security changes nation and district-wide are also in works.

“There was a police officer standing out front of the elementary school when I dropped off my child,” said Mrs. Felder. “At first, I questioned as to why it really had to come to this, but at the same time I was very grateful that he was there.”

Safety procedures are practiced each month, but have been limited to tornado and fire drills. Teachers reviewed safety procedures during the inservice held Jan. 7. School Resource Officer Tommy Wooten addressed the issue during the inservice and answered any questions that remained.

Student involvement in S.W.A.T., which is a safety team sponsored by Officer Wooten, is encouraged to influence positive communication.

Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Officer Wooten has been in constant communication with principals from other schools asking for advice of what to do in those situations.

“When we come back on January 7, Dr. Brackett allotted time to go over this.” said Officer Wooten. “If this were to happen, we’re going to let the person know that we’re here to get them out.”.

These events serve as a reminder to students that what they may see as a nuisance, such as taking attendance, checking in and out or having a blue note, just why they are in place.

“Attendance is not just to see who is skipping but to know who is in our building. If something happens, we need to be accountable,” said Officer Wooten.

At the point when one does not have the option to run or hide anymore when an intruder is in the school, the whole focus is to make sure that the intruder knows that everyone is aware of his or her presence.

“Disarm, detain, and distract them,” said Officer Wooten. “At that point, you’re authorized to use deadly force against them.”

According to Officer Wooten, being prepared is key. A common attitude of safety first must be consistent throughout the building among everyone involved.

“There’s a lot of thought and there’s a lot of training. We just need to talk about it, we need to train our teachers, and then we need to train our kids,” he said.

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