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Safety first

New rules created to protect students

School+resource+officer+David+Attaway+checks+a+door+to+make+sure+it+is+locked.+Locked+doors+is+among+many+safety+precautions+the+school+has+taken.+
School resource officer David Attaway checks a door to make sure it is locked. Locked doors is among many safety precautions the school has taken.

School resource officer David Attaway checks a door to make sure it is locked. Locked doors is among many safety precautions the school has taken.

photo by Tara Routie

photo by Tara Routie

School resource officer David Attaway checks a door to make sure it is locked. Locked doors is among many safety precautions the school has taken.

Tara Routie, Staff Reporter

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An extra officer on campus, a new security guard next year and random door checks- security has been a big concern all year, but after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas, safety precautions have been elevated to a new level.

The Stoneman Douglas shootings led to a student walkout on Wednesday, Feb. 21 to protest school shootings. While student walkouts are allowed, as it is a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, these walkouts are for students only. Students are the ones to organize, lead, and participate in them. Administration will be present at all walkouts to direct and supervise, but the faculty have been advised not to participate. Principal Dr. Mary Williams explained that teachers are still required to teach even if the majority of students walk out, and it is their responsibility to understand the conditions of the walkout and that they are missing class time.

Prior to the Majory Stoneman Douglas shooting, teachers were required to keep doors locked at all times, but this rule has been continuously enforced with random locked door checks. School resource officer David Attaway checks teachers’ doors to make sure they are always locked. By always keeping doors locked, it lessens the chance of an unwanted visitor, such as a school shooter, from entering a classroom. 

“We check the perimeters, we check the cameras, we check teachers’ doors and gates,” Attaway said.

Although Attaway and other administrators do their best to keep doors locked, doors are still propped open, mostly for convenience, by students so they do not have to knock or go through the front office to get back in the school. By students propping doors open with door holders or rocks, it defeats the purpose of a lock.

“[Propping doors open] is considered a breach of security and happens way too often,” Williams said.

Besides keeping doors locked at all times, a second officer, Deputy Chris Burns, has been added to the campus for extra security. Burns will finish the school year and stay on campus until further notice. Another security guard will be hired for next school year in order to make the campus even safer. Seventeen cameras will also be bought so every building is monitored inside and outside, and will be used to see which students are propping doors open. Students caught doing so will get in trouble.

One of the new safety measures include not allowing students to enter school until 6:50 a.m. Students who arrive earlier than this time must wait outside until the doors are open. Buses that arrive earlier will not allow students to exit until 6:50 a.m. School supervision hours are now from 6:50 a.m. to 3 p.m., even if students are dropped off early. Students who need to gain early entry into the school must make prior arrangements with the teachers, or make other preparations after school. The idea is to shorten the amount of time for anyone to enter the school, but some students do not see the point in it.

“I don’t understand what the 20 minute gap [will do],” senior Taylor Whiteman said.

Although these safety measures may seem inconvenient to students, they understand why these rules are put in place.

“I’ll take into account these safety measures if that means being happy and safe,” senior Kara Brizendine said.

While changes have happened on the school level, the state has made changes too. On Monday, March 5, the Florida Senate passed a bill to allow certain school employees to carry a gun. The bill will move over to the House for approval, and if it is passed, counties will have the option to allow certain employees to carry a gun on campus. The bill excludes classroom teachers from carrying a gun, but other employees who do not directly teach would be allowed to. Superintendent Dr. Walt Griffin however, is against arming teachers, whether it was included in the bill or not, so it is unlikely that any staff besides school resource officers would carry weapons on campus.

Even with these new safety measures, Williams and Attaway both stress the importance of practicing the “see something, say something” philosophy. Williams explains that if students see suspicious behavior, they should report it immediately to any administrator. A hotline is also available to call if they wish to remain anonymous. It is impossible to guarantee school safety, so by reporting skeptical behavior, students are improving the safety of the campus.

“There is only so much [the school] can do, other than making sure that the students know they have [people] to talk to,” senior Liliana Seminara said.

 

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