The deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month sent a shockwave of terror across our lives. A place we hoped would be safe for children was violated in a brutal attack.
Parents here and elsewhere began to fear the worst as they walked their children to the bus stop or dropped them off at the front doors of the school.
In the wake of the shootings, our schools have begun evaluating security measures to protect our young students. Considering the brief period since the attack, administrators have shown good progress in boosting security measures, which can bring some relief to parents and the rest of the community.
In Oneonta, monitors have been placed at the entrances to its schools to screen visitors. And as part of a capital building projects, voters this month approved spending on districtwide technology and safety upgrades. The schools will have a system of card readers and video cameras to monitor activity, along with a single entry point at each building with a locked vestibule. An inner door would have to unlocked for someone to enter.
Delhi voters will go to the polls Feb. 12 to vote for enhancements to the district’s security, increasing the number of cameras and improving entryways to keep children safe.
Schools and our community also can take some simple steps in addition to large-scale, costly security changes to help protect our children.
Bring peace of mind to yourself and others by establishing a volunteer parent patrol unit. Similar to a neighborhood watch, parents can keep eyes on the school grounds and within the buildings to be aware of suspicious activity. Groups such as these can promote community involvement while allowing students to focus on learning rather than security.
With protocols in place to warn parents of early dismissals or class cancellations because of bad weather, schools should consider a way to alert parents of potential security risks. This could be through a phone alert system, text messages or postings on the school website. Rumors and speculation can often make a situation worse when all parents want is to make sure their children are safe.
Schools should routinely hold lockdown or security drills to prepare students and staff for a potentially violent situation. Again, this is similar to what our schools already in case severe weather.
What is not needed is to bring guns into the schools by arming teachers. This policy would bring weapons into schools under the guise of protecting our children. But it would place a heavy burden on teachers to be trained to carry a weapon and could lead to violent altercations involving students who know guns are already on the premises.