"Open Campus" (Graphic by Mohini Rye)

EDITORIAL: Why not try shades on doors, safety lines?

On April 27, 2016, four students’ laptops were taken during a high school band concert. 

On Oct. 27, 2015, a computer monitor and a guitar were stolen from the orchestra room. On top of that, spray-painted graffiti was found near the pre-K play area, in a hallway in the lower school building, on a wall outside the After School Enrichment office and on some wood planks.

During the winter break in 2014, one of the school’s vans was stolen from the parking lot. It was later found in the parking lot of a California Fitness Center with two rows of seats taken.

Now in the wake of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead and another 17 injured, concerns throughout the country have emerged about school safety and gun control.

As lucky as SCDS is to not have dealt with a serious emergency on campus, at least three major thefts and other smaller incidents have showed the vulnerability of our campus. 

We applaud the school for the actions it has already taken to ensure the safety of the campus. Annual lockdown drills and the planned safety procedure training by Knowledge Saves Lives are a step in the right direction. 

But in a March 20 Octagon poll of 117 students, 76 said they feel as though Country Day’s high school campus is unsafe.

With our open campus and large classroom windows, their fears aren’t unrealistic. 

The safety of students should be the first priority, which means investing in precautions, like a fence surrounding the campus or bulletproof glass for classrooms.

There are 325 square feet of glass windows and doors in Rooms 3 through 9, and that doesn’t even take into account the library and other buildings.

Even though the large windows are pretty and provide lots of natural light inside the classrooms, they can be easily smashed or broken.

Another option, constructing a gate and fence around the campus, has been in the master plan for 15 years, according to head of school Lee Thomsen (see Parkland shooting raises safety concerns on page 2).

And a fence (a real fence, not just a few pieces of wood that can be jumped over or easily opened), according to Paul Llanez, chief executive officer of Knowledge Saves Lives, is more effective than bulletproof windows.

A fence would limit access to the campus itself and prevent an armed person from getting near classrooms in the first place.

Understandably, the costs of these safety measures are high, and it might not be feasible to have both.

There are, however, some precautionary measures that are cheaper to implement. For example, why not put shades on the doors? While classroom windows have blinds that prevent anyone from looking in, three feet to the side are large glass panels on the doors. 

During the March 6 lockdown drill, three students in Room 3 couldn’t find a place hidden from the windows, according to junior Nate Jakobs. 

Imagine if there really were an intruder or an armed person on campus. What would those three students have done?

Southwestern Jr./Sr. School in Shelbyville, Indiana, which is considered the “safest school in America,” has red lines across the floors of classrooms to mark where students can’t be seen by someone looking through a window. 

The cost of adding these lines would be minimal, and they would help ensure that during a lockdown, there would be a safe location in the classrooms, and no one would be stuck in a potentially life-threatening situation.

Originally published in the April 10 edition of the Octagon.

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