Reevaluating School Safety Measures

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Reevaluating School Safety Measures

Students evacuate the school during a practice drill while teachers lock their doors.

Students evacuate the school during a practice drill while teachers lock their doors.

Jenna Ariza

Students evacuate the school during a practice drill while teachers lock their doors.

Jenna Ariza

Jenna Ariza

Students evacuate the school during a practice drill while teachers lock their doors.

Jenna Ariza

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Jenna Ariza

Reevaluating School Safety Measures

The process of emergency procedures are precautions taken in order to ensure the safety of students and staff in the school. The question is, do all of the students and staff consider the school to be safe enough?

Considering the recent incidents of mass shootings and a rise in numbers of several school shootings in the past few years, it is of great importance for communities and schools everywhere located in the U.S. to be prepared at all costs.

Eerie Lugo, principal/dean, was informed by others of a school shooting threat on a form of social media that was directed at the school by a couple of teens from a public school in the Jersey City area. These actions resulted in a delayed opening for all students of UACHS on Monday morning of February 26th, 2018.

“My understanding is that what actually happened, happened on Saturday and so I found out about it on Sunday night,” said Lugo.  “Now let’s just say that I didn’t sleep much. But I took the proactive measures I took to make sure that everyone was safe here Monday morning.”

In a span of approximately ten months, the school makes sure to initiate one drill per month. It is required by the state department of education for the specific safety drills to be practiced based on certain situations.

“[The procedures include] two lockdowns, two active shooters, two bomb threats, two evacuations other than fires, and the other two are optional as to how you want to do them,” said Lugo. “We usually do tabletop activity drills for those days but we put down a scenario and we talk about how we would react to that scenario.”

Hans Winberg is a teacher who plays many roles in the school; he is a part of the safety committee, editor of the safety manual, and head of the social studies department. The school safety committee allows him and several others to attend meetings around the state on behalf of the school to discuss safety.

In order to ensure the implementation of emergency/safety measures, the staff was recently given an emergency procedures booklet. In the booklet, it includes instructions on how to deal with a certain situation.

“I think most of the teachers are familiar with active shooter drills and active fire drills and bomb scares [but do not know how to nuance the differences among them],” said Winberg. “For the most part when there is a drill, most students and teachers follow in step.”

Unlike other schools in the Jersey City area, UACHS has two main doors that students and staff can enter and exit through; both doors are covered by security.

“I think this is the safest school in Jersey City,” said Lugo. “We don’t have the types of incidents all the other schools are having. I think that majority of parents send their children here because they feel it’s a safer school than the other ones here in Jersey City.”

Yet, some of the students and staff would argue that the level of security in the school should be upgraded; the last recent change this school year was putting lockdown magnetic strips in every room. Susan Suarez, an English teacher for the freshman, opposes Lugo’s position/point of view on the lockdowns.

“It would be better if we didn’t have the glass doors and sliding doors where you can kind of poke something in through the side,” said Suarez. “It’s actually where we wind up hiding too but that’s not a procedural thing… that’s an actual thing, a capital thing.”

It seems evident that the safety committee takes safety seriously but there are still some improvements and a few possible changes/alternatives to be made. In a time of safety for the students and staff members, it is important to act now upon many changes for the benefit of the future.

“…if you have a fellow student that you know is going through a rough patch and may do something they might regret, don’t sit on that information,” said Lugo. “Give it to somebody as quick as possible.”

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Reevaluating School Safety Measures