Within the past few months, we underwent a series of social media threats and lock downs, some real and some complete bogus. However, due to the lack of preparation and efficiency, many students and teachers were unprepared when the final blow. This time, luckily, the final blow gave us mercy. Until the next time, some changes must be made.
1. Use a code word to signify a trigger a lock down.
If an intruder was truly in the building, then announcements blaring, "We are now having a level three lock down," would sabotage the whole safety plan. The intruder will now know that students are cramming themselves into a stinky back room, huddled together in dark and quiet classrooms to create an illusion as if there is no one there. The element of surprise the intruder was hoping for is completely eliminated, thus expediting the urgency of his or her mission, which may cause more harm than good.
By using a code word, the safety of the students and teachers can be better insured while the oblivious intruder continues with the plan while the cops come rushing in.
2. When hiring additional resource officers, hire those with reliable motivation.
Although the principle sent several letters to parents and teachers informing them of the current situation, he also ensured the safety of the students by having more school resource officers on campus. However, when I passed the outdoor cafeteria, I saw a group of uniform-clad officers mingling around and laughing gleefully as if another potential threat may be imminent. Perhaps they were having a late lunch break, but who knows. Better safe than sorry.
3. Keep not only the students but the parents updated, too.
During the day of the lock down around two in the afternoon, only a handful of the students truly understood the situation at hand. Although the social media threat was posted on the school's Snapchat story, not many kept up with the current news, especially with the internet service cut within the entire campus.
Subsequently, the information letter sent home to parents was just as inadequate. The post itself was not described at any extend, and there was no news about the capture of the student who posted the threat later that day. This must be resolved with better communication to keep the students, teachers and especially parents updated about the current situations.
4. Come up with a better plan to contain the suspected intruder
Although no one was hurt during the last few excursions, the system to prevent such incidents from happening was poorly devised. With the obvious notion that the student who posted the social media threat was clearly a student from his our school, how is it helpful to conduct a level one lock down? While it would possibly contain the intruder, it would also trap the rest of the students in with that very threat, posing an even greater risk.
Instead of arresting the student after school, the threat should be eliminated as soon as possible to avoid chaos and panic for the students and parents, and clarification should be sent out immediately.
5. Create safer environments in case of an actual emergency
While most classrooms are equipped with blinds and window shutters, some of the larger and most important rooms, such as the cafeteria and fine arts hallway, are made of glass and entirely open to the outside world with no shutter. Essentially, an outside intruder can see the inside of the building with 100 percent visibility.
Additionally, with a larger class and more equipment set out for class, such as instruments, hiding the students in a front-facing chamber room with almost non-existent air facilitation gives the intruder a clear sign of "vulnerability."
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With these kept in mind, various changes can take place to better the safety of the students but also address the concerns of the parents and teachers.