Lots of schools districts – including the one in which I work – have been revisiting safety procedures since Newtown’s tragedy. That’s a good thing. But as with many suggestions for educators, there are some incredibly myopic ideas out there.
Recently I heard the suggestions that educators plan room arrangements so that bookcases can be installed close to the classroom door. The thinking behind this is that, in cases of emergency, a teacher could push the bookcase in front of the door thereby providing a barrier to an armed intruder.
Well, I consider myself fairly strong after over year of strength and conditioning, but I can tell you it would take a lot more than my muscles to move a bookcase in front of an entry way in an emergency situation. Not to mention classroom entry door open out into the hallway thereby allowing an intruder to simply open the door to gain entry.
If you truly want to know what may or may not work in safety situation, invite the people who might actually be in the situation in to the discussion. Any teacher or building administrator could have reminded a consultant of these two factors.
What might work? Well, that would probably cost more money than a school district is prepared to spend to retro-fit classrooms. Currently, in order to lock the classroom door, I need to open the door and lock from the outside of the door. Keeping the door locked and shut during the day means every time one of my students needs to use the bathroom during the day, a student would need to knock to regain entry to the classroom, thereby interrupting teaching and learning.
Two thoughts. One, change the door material from wood to steel. Two, install a dead bolt throw high up on the door (so that small inquisitive fingers don’t accidentally throw the bolt) that could lock the door within seconds while students are moving to safe spots in the classroom.
It’s a different environment we’re teaching in. Answers to school safety concerns will not be easy. What are your ideas?