The History of school shootings dates back for centuries. Years ago and even today, school shootings are a constant worry for staff and students. I interviewed with Vice Principal and head of the safety department here at North Scott, Mr. Schwartz, to help inform students and also make them feel, hopefully, just a little bit safer on our school grounds.
School Safety Systems
Mr. Schwartz and the safety committee have implemented a new system, SARA, a computer notification system to help keep students and staff safe during emergencies. The alert system can be activated from any staff member's cell phone or computer from anywhere in the building. Therefore, potential threats do not need to be communicated to the office before the rest of the school is aware of the danger. Schwartz says that the focus of this new system is mainly to have the capability of warning students in choir, band, or the industrial tech. building easier. However, this new program does not only help these specific students. Finding a solution to this problem has not been easy and administration has been looking for a solution for a while. Initially, the safety team attempted to use warning lights; however, these were not a cost-effective solution. SARA should be a good way to help keep us safe. Mr. Schwartz hopes that SARA can be used on student devices in the near future as well– it will only be used in the high school building… currently.
In regards to the ALICE drill, it is still in effect. Due to the situation at the Junior High, when seniors were in seventh grade, ALICE was cut back, to prevent from triggering students. The plan is to work back up to doing ALICE more often after the current seniors graduate. Mr. Schwartz says, that no matter what, it's very important to know where your exits, possible weapons, and prevention can come from every time you walk into the building or a new classroom.
How To Report
There are many methods for reporting a threat or potential danger. During the interview, I asked Mr. Schwartz how students can best report a threat, he responded, “honestly however they are comfortable, we try to have a lot of different methods for that reason. If I had the preference, students would come talk to me.”
P3 is still an option for reporting; however, it is much harder to communicate with the student afterward and ask follow-up questions if they are needed. In addition, there is also a form on the North Scott Website where you can inform administration of potential danger.
Erasers in Door
One thing the administration has been vigorously fighting to do is keep erasers out of the door, although they are small and can easily be removed, they can still make a huge difference.
“Just by being behind a closed, locked door, your survival rate in that event, starts at 80% . . . starts.” He continues with, “what if you're the first room . . . I'm not okay with losing 30 kids while the others are just now pulling their erasers out of the door.” - Mr. Schwartz
Advice From Mr. Schwartz
After asking Mr. Schwartz what advice he has for students who already do not feel safe at school he immediately said, talk to someone you trust. Whether it's a teacher, counselor, or administrator there is always someone that can help us feel better. Mr. Schwartz says that one thing the safety team prides itself on is knowing their not perfect and acknowledging the fact that the best ideas can come from students or parents. He continues by saying that what is best for today may not always be best for tomorrow and concludes with the fact that they will do what's possible to make us all feel safer in school.