Bear Witness

Most teachers feel safe on campus

But some feel new measures such as fencing and drills may have negative side effects


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Branham has made several changes since last year meant to improve general safety on campus. These have included new iron fencing around campus, more active patrols, and monthly, unannounced drills. From a Bear Witness survey of more than 40 teachers, many were mixed on how they felt about these safety measures.

Fence

 A new iron fence has been put up around the perimeter of campus. The purpose is to limit the entrances and exits of the campus so students and visitors can be more easily monitored, according to Principal Cheryl Lawton. There will be multiple gates that can be pushed open from the inside, but can only be opened with a key from the outside.

From the survey 32.5 percent of the 40 teachers surveyed felt that the new fencing makes them feel the campus is safer.

Some teachers mentioned that it makes the campus “feel like a prison.” However, art teacher Cristina Prates said, that school should not have started without a fence in place.

Active patrolling

In the past, police on campus were mainly focused in the quad, but according to Lawton, police will be patrolling on campus, especially around the perimeter. In the survey, more than half of the teachers felt that an active police presence will make the campus safer.

Some teachers have reservations and have raised the possible issue of profiling.

“Historically, patrols have led to an increase in student of color discipline issues,” said English teacher Mike Espinoza, who is a member of the district’s Fair and Belonging Committee. “I’d want to see exactly how they were patrolling to ensure it was fair for all stakeholders.”

Special education teacher Leanne Haghighi shares similar concerns.

“I feel like too much police presence would make students feel uncomfortable and is counterproductive to a positive campus culture,” said Haghighi

Most teachers feel that the change is beneficial.

Drills

More monthly drills are being planned throughout the day with the goal of better preparing students in case of an active shooter on campus. The first lockdown drill this year took place in August during third period. Another took place Sept. 19 during fifth period.

Most teachers feel that these drills are preparing students in case of emergency, but multiple teachers are worried that they are taking away too much time from instruction.

“It’s important to drill, but the amount of time and instructional minutes we’re taking is totally disproportionate to the actual threat,” said English teacher Rachelle Burnside.

These drills can also add to teachers’ responsibilities, as they have to instruct students on logistics such as building barricades and reporting the safety of students in the class. Additionally, they also

“Teachers have too many responsibilities: supervise barricade build, call other teachers, text admin, fill in a google form—I can’t get it all done in two minutes, some require that I be at my desk,” said engineering teacher Barbara Schremp.

Room Safety Measures

Windows: A little than half percent of teachers surveyed have all of the windows covered in their classrooms with materials like posters, newspapers or curtains. In the case of an active shooter, covered windows provide an extra level of safety.

Door ties: Around 37 percent of teachers have a tie-locking mechanism for the top of classroom doors. These ties go around the bars at the top of the classroom doors so they are much more difficult to open. These are to be used during Run, Hide, Defend drills and also during instances where there is an active shooter on campus.

Audio Communication: Fire alarms and announcements play an important role in emergency situations. Less than 40 percent of teachers report hearing fire alarms and announcements every time. Some can only hear the announcements, while other classrooms can hear the fire alarms.

 

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The Student News Site of Branham High School
Most teachers feel safe on campus