Making schools safe for students and staff

Opinion: Columns

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By Joanne Kosey

Columnist

It's common to hear about schools holding live-shooter drills to prepare staff and students in the event such a thing actually happens. Actually, schools in this country have held similar drills – but for different reasons.

When I was going to school, students were taught to be prepared in the event there was an enemy nuclear attack. We knew who that enemy was or believed to be, but we were mainly too young to understand. We just knew it could happen. Luckily, it didn't.

At St. Mary School in Riverside we learned that if the sirens sounded we were to go under our desks, cover our heads and begin praying.

The public schools were also in readiness mode with drills that sent students seeking shelter in their classrooms or designated areas of the school. I would imagine there were some silent prayers being said. 

Blythe Park School even had a sign on the outside of the building stating there was an air raid shelter in the building. The sign was up for a number of years. For me, it was a reminder of another time and I was glad it was finally removed, although I am not sure when that occurred. Later students probably never noticed the sign or what it meant, better for them.

Fear of nuclear attack subsided through the years and students prepared for the usual -- fire drills and tornadoes. Neither are things to make light of, but there were more ways we could protect ourselves against the elements.

As a child, I was frightened by it. Why would anyone want to bomb anyone? 

Today we are asking the same question. Why?

Nowadays, administrators, faculty and students enter school buildings having to be prepared as never before. Doors are locked, buildings are secured. Many schools hire professional security for their buildings. Students and staff go through their day with an extra set of eyes and ears, just in case. 

How unfortunate this appears to be becoming the norm. Children still need to be alerted to Stranger Danger, the meaning of which has been expanded to mean much more. 

Who do we blame? There is enough to go around and rather than play the blame game, let's all take responsibility for making our schools a safe haven, a place to learn and, yes, have fun. A few prayers wouldn't hurt, either, no matter what your beliefs.

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