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New locked doors policy enforced, enhance student protection

After the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Dec. 14, schools across the nation, including FC, have enacted a locked door policy in order to improve the security of students. With this new rule, all doors in the school must remain locked throughout the school day, only opening between class periods. Students must be escorted to class and are required to have tardy slips with them if they are late.

Principal Todd Bennett describes the disgust that he felt when he first heard about the shooting in Connecticut.

“It made me sick; it was awful,” Bennett said. “It happened at an elementary school. I thought about how when you send your kids off to school you don’t want to worry about things like that. You just don’t even think about anything like that happening. School should be as safe as the home. It should be a place where the worst thing that can happen is somebody getting their feelings hurt or getting in a fist fight.”

As a parent, Bennett cannot fathom what it would be like to lose a child in this horrific way. Bennet also put himself in the children’s shoes to see what they must have experienced.

“I just can’t imagine what it would have been like for those parents to get that phone call and hear that their child had been murdered,” Bennett said. “The other thing is the terror of the children. It had to have been horrible because it didn’t all happen immediately. They knew what was going on as it was getting closer to them. It just makes me sick.”

Bennett decided that it was necessary for FC to take some action after the tragedy. Working with Superintendent Debbie Siebert, Bennett decided that keeping the doors at school locked would be helpful with increasing the security at school.

“It was Mrs. Siebert’s and my idea,” Bennett said. “Right after the tragedy in Connecticut we talked about any things that we could do to make the campus more secure. One of the things that we came up with was to put a buzzer at the gate over at the Northeast campus to keep it locked. Now anybody that comes in has to ring a bell to be let in. We also thought, after reading the reports about what happened in Connecticut, that nothing would have prevented someone from coming here and doing what he did, but several lives were saved because doors were locked. The more you can do to make it harder for someone to do something, the better.”

Bennett notes that another plus of having locked doors is that students are more encouraged to be on time to class. This, however, was not the main reason for the new policy.

“We talked about the downside of locking doors and really for the students, as far as we’re concerned with educational purposes, there is no downside to having the doors locked,” Bennett said. “The reality is that students now have to be to class on time and can’t get up to use the restroom several times per day. They can’t go visit other people in other classrooms. So that’s a plus of having locked doors but it’s not the reason we did it. The primary reason we did it is because we want to keep people safe.”

The new policy has made it inconvenient for some teachers and the office staff. Bennett believes that the little bit of extra effort is worth the safety of the students.

“The inconvenience for teachers is that they need to check the lock and make sure it’s unlocked during passing time or make sure the door’s open,” Bennett said. “Then they need to take the time to make sure it’s locked once class starts. It’s inconvenient for students when they have to leave to run an errand or use the restroom. They just have to stop by the office so that someone can come and unlock the door for them. The office staff has to stop what they’re doing to go unlock doors. One of the ways around that is we use student aids to help us unlock doors.”

The students at FC have reacted differently to this new rule. Though sophomore Trevor Beal can see how having locked doors is better for students’ safety, he finds the constant opening and closing doors distracting and does not agree that keeping the doors locked was the best decision.

“I dislike it because it provides a distraction for students during class, unlocking and locking doors instead of just coming in,” Beal said. “I understand how they want to protect us but I don’t like the new system. It keeps me from being late to class, and I think it will help other people be more on time to class as well. I think it will make everyone leave class less often, but I find it disrupting when I have to unlock the door for someone.”

On the other hand, Kaelene Presson, ’13, thinks the new locked door policy was a good idea and that it was in the best interest of everyone.

“I feel like it’s a good policy for the safety of everyone at school,” Presson said. “I think we need it on our campus. Even though it’s a pain, I think that having locked doors was a good decision. It’s really inconvenient if you’re late, but if a bad scenario were to happen at our school, it would be helpful. I guess I’ll just have to get used to knocking on classroom doors.”

For more features, read the Jan. 8 article, Vaipan family escapes Communism, finds freedom in America.

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