It’s no secret that the concept of school safety has been a controversial topic on the political and social landscape in recent years. After the devastating school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, schools around the county–including SHS–are increasing safety measures to assure their school communities are as safe as possible.
This year, as SHS students and staff make their way around the high school, they may notice a magnetic strip covering the locks of their classrooms’ door frames. While this item is small and could go unnoticed, it’s one of the most useful and easy ways the SHS administration ensures a rapid response time in the event of a crisis: Known as an EBCO Lockdown Magnet, this magnetic strip should be visible on every single door frame in our school.
When used correctly, the EBCO Lockdown Magnet allows classroom doors to remain locked when the magnetic strip covers the strike plate. With the magnetic strip in place, teachers do not need to lock or unlock their doors with a key. Instead, they keep their doors in the locked position and place the magnetic strip over the strike plate. During the school day, students and teachers have the ability to open and close classroom doors without being concerned about getting locked out. With the magnetic strip in place, doors remained locked, but they can still be opened because the magnetic strip prevents the locking mechanism from engaging.
In the case of an emergency, anyone can easily remove the EBCO Lockdown Magnet to secure a classroom. For example, if a teacher is not present or available in a classroom when an emergency occurs, students have the ability to secure their classrooms by removing the magnetic strip.
Although this is an easy security measure, during a recent investigation, only 18 out of 40 of the classrooms on the second floor of SHS were using the Lockdown Magnet correctly. In some classrooms, the magnetic strip was not positioned over the strike plate, and in some cases, the magnetic strips were not even in sight.
Implementing this safety protocol correctly ensures greater efficiency in the case of a true emergency. However, if SHS teachers aren’t utilizing the system, they will need to use their keys to personally lock their doors, taking extra time during an emergency situation–time that may not be available.
For any school community today, security protocols are critical. By implementing (and following) the EBCO Lockdown Magnet system, the SHS administration has taken an important step toward creating a safer school. However, what good is it to have this system if it is not being used properly and consistently by all of those who are responsible for students’ safety? An emergency could happen within seconds, leaving no time to think or process what is occurring.
In fact, at SHS many students have not been educated about the EBCO Lockdown Magnet, and they do not know how to properly use it. Imagine if a teacher were to step out of the class during an emergency, and the students are left to fend for themselves. How can they be expected to remove the magnetic strip if they were never taught to do so?
If one single classroom is not following the correct procedure, both students and staff could be put at serious risk–especially since many SHS classrooms are connected to adjoining classrooms through interior doors. At SHS, we may all go about our day unbothered and unaffected by tragedy; however, in reality, crisis situations are unpredictable and far too prevalent to ignore.
While the SHS administration has set the foundation for a safe school, we cannot wait for another deadly event to happen at another school before we start taking safety protocols seriously. At SHS, every student will continue to be at risk until every single classroom teacher utilizes the EBCO Lockdown Magnet, and every single student is trained in how to use it during an emergency.