A Comparison of the Safety Procedures in Different Schools

By Alexis Tainter

Every school has a safety policy. Every school has procedures for students and teachers to follow and different things put in place to ensure that the school is safe. Ritenour High School in Breckenridge Hills has recently reevaluated and changed their policies regarding safety, which many districts are doing in response to school shootings, like Sandy Hook, being covered so much in the media. “We completely changed the structure of the front of our building,” Ritenour’s Assistant Principal Katey Gray said. “We added the “buzz in” system, a new welcome desk to assure that visitors really are going where they say they are, and we added cameras in the building.”

All safety changes in Ritenour were made within the last year. The “buzz in” system refers to how visitors enter the school each day. Someone wanting to enter the building during school hours must “buzz in” and an administrator would get more information about this visitor through a speaker system and then decide if they should be allowed into the building. This process is all monitored by surveillance cameras. Elementary and middle schools in FHSD have also taken up the idea of having visitors “buzz in”, including Harvest Ridge Elementary and Barnwell Middle. At FHN, visitors enter through the one and only unlocked door by the main office, where there should be a security guard waiting inside. Another change at Ritenour is the installation of cameras. Ritenour first added cameras into their building this year, while FHN has had cameras in the school long before this year. “The guy installing the cameras even mentioned to me that we have the most cameras in our school now than any other school that he has worked with,” Gray said. The number of cameras and the “buzz in” system makes Ritenour slightly unique, but one thing that sets them apart is their backpack policy. Students wishing to carry one must have a clear or transparent backpack.

“There was an incident involving a weapon four or five years ago that it wasn’t actually used in a threatening manner, but was just in the building,” Gray said. “So in response to that, the board of the district decided to implement the clear backpack policy just to ensure the students safety.” While FHN does not require students to carry any certain type of backpack, they do have a policy regarding school IDs. North’s current stance on schoolIDs is that students must carry their IDs with them at all times, but it hasn’t always been this way. Students had to visibly wear their IDs on their clothing while at school up until a few years ago. North changed this because administrators say it was a hard rule to enforce. “A lot of students didn’t have their IDs on them all the time and we just kept punishing students for not having it, and it just became you got to pick your battles and what’s important,” Tony Grippi, FHN’s assistant principal, said. “So we decided students should have them available at request.”

North’s safety policy has been successful with keeping intruders out of the building and making sure the students and staff are safe. Changes can still be expected in the future.
“We will continue to work to make sure that as best as possible, within the resources available to us, to provide an environment for our students that is safe and secure,” Chief Financial Officer Kevin Supple, member of FHSD’s Safety Task Force, said. At the same time, the new changes at Ritenour and older procedures that are still in use seem to be working for them. Gray agrees that the different safety policies benefit the students and they have more knowledge of what goes on around the school.
“In the time that I’ve been here we haven’t had a real issue at all,” Gray, who has worked at Ritenour for three years, said. “With all of those changes and that in place, it makes us more safe and makes us more aware of what’s happening and we can respond more quickly if we have to go into a lockdown process.”