As of this year, Country Day implemented three new safety features, including plexiglass on the lower and middle school gates as well as a revamped visitor policy. Also, a new fire drill protocol was put into practice. Though the administration’s intention was good, the security features don’t resolve some concerns, especially regarding large events on campus.
The new fire drill, in which students and faculty wait for a second alarm to ring before moving to the field, is a great idea. It reduces the risk of a false alarm, which can be critical to students’ safety.
Modifying the lower school and middle school gates is helpful, but the high school remains open to all visitors.
We understand the purpose of the gates is to guide visitors to the high school and register at the front office, but if someone dangerous enters the campus, the safety of everyone in the high school could be jeopardized.
The gates seem to create an illusion of safety. The school has many open entrances, not to mention some people can reach over the plexiglass panels installed on the gates and open them.
Besides, if someone really wants to sneak on campus, there are plenty of fences they can climb over without being caught immediately.
Adding security officers is a great step toward keeping track of all visitors on campus, and teaming them with the California Highway Patrol will help ensure campus safety. It’s great that the CHP ensured that Country Day was not in danger on the day of the shooter threat on social media regarding Jesuit and Rio Americano high schools, as it worried students.
Consulting the CHP to ban food delivery services will help reduce unidentified visitors. However, during big events, crowds enter the campus without registering at the front office. At these times, anyone can walk onto campus.
In addition, during home games, parents of opposing players enter and exit freely. It may be difficult for guards to identify visitors already on campus.
At an event last year, a stranger asked a student for directions to the bathroom. There weren’t any guards to identify him. This situation easily could have been a danger to our community.
Due to the nature of our campus, enclosing the school is difficult. We agree with the administration that installing effective gates would be costly and would ruin the aesthetic of the high school.
Besides, installing gates may not block people out. There will always be ways for people who are intent on getting in to do so.
On the other hand, if the purpose of the gates is to funnel people through the high school in order to keep track of visitors, some inexpensive improvements can be added.
Currently, the security guards’ duty is to enforce parking rules. It would be simple to have them stand by the high school entrances and check visitors’ ID badges. Students can carry their ID cards if they need to be identified by guards. However, since Country Day is relatively small, guards should be able to keep track of visitors with moderate ease.
Security guards near the entrances of the school could inform visitors to check in at the front office, greatly reducing the risk of a stranger entering unnoticed.
A sign doesn’t enforce the check-in policy. In addition, guards could immediately spot any suspicious people and be prepared.
It could be argued that, instead of having security guards at the entrances, having them on school grounds can ensure students’ safety better because they will be closer to students in the event of an emergency. However, if no one suspicious enters the campus, there won’t be emergencies.
Considering that visitors are allowed on campus during large events and at games, guards are imperative to our security. In case of intrusion, they could block paths to prevent a trespasser from gaining access to the whole campus.
Currently, Country Day’s security largely consists of a half-fenced-in campus and a sign informing visitors to check in.
Since the school doesn’t need to keep all visitors out, security guards are a cheaper, more efficient alternative than extending the gates. It would be much easier to implement and would give students a sense of security without making Country Day feel as if it were a prison.
After all, homework, finals and the SAT are scary enough.
Originally published in the Sept. 17 edition of the Octagon.