School Security

Upon my arrival at Waltham I noticed straight away that it was not easy to get into the school itself.  Doors were locked with push code boxes attached to the outside.  I did not know any of the codes.  Luckily people inside saw me and let me in.

Getting in, and I mean physically into, a school over here is not easy for the average person.  In fact, it is supposed to be impossible for the average person unless they know the codes or hold a swipe card to let yourself in.  Unlike my school in America, or many schools in America, parents cannot just come into a school building and say hello or retrieve their kid.  They must press a buzzer and, through a visual check by someone inside, they will then be let in.

Cameras are always watching our school's front door.

Cameras are always watching our school’s front door.

When the tragic shootings occurred in the US this year it brought out a lot of conversation about school security.  My staff as well as parents over here were amazed that I worked in a school that did not have a security system.  They were even more amazed (or appalled) that the campus I work on is technically open to the public before and after school hours.  I even told stories how, outside on duty back home, I would have to ask strangers on our school grounds to leave.  Often these encounters would get testy, as the strangers using the school grounds felt a sense of entitlement to use them whenever they wanted, even though signs are posted stating the hours when the grounds are open to all.

Without a swipe card I would find myself locked out of the building.  I actually carry a card in my wallet now so that I am not climbing fences and knocking on windows to get back into the building.

Without a swipe card I would find myself locked out of the building. I actually carry a card in my wallet now so that I am not climbing fences and knocking on windows to get back into the building.

I know that in Portland there is a push to add more security systems to all the schools.  At the High School level there are more prudent measures taken when it comes to security, but this is not found at the Primary level.  Back in Portland it is common to find parents coming in and out of the building all day, hanging around outside of the building itself in the mornings, or even sometimes taking their preschoolers onto our playground whilst students are in the classroom.

Our gate to the playground is opened in the morning, then locked, then opened again at the end of the day.  One cannot simply walk onto school grounds.

Our gate to the playground is opened in the morning, then locked, then opened again at the end of the day. One cannot simply walk onto school grounds.

I feel that these security measures here are a good thing.  A very good thing.  Hopefully Portland Public Schools will be adding something similar to all the buildings in the District.  It will, though, take some getting used to for parents, as their children are technically locked into school for the day.  Americans tend to want to hold onto as many freedoms as possible and are often reluctant to sweeping changes.  I feel that the American school system needs many changes to it, including revisiting how to secure schools.  I do not feel that teachers need guns or that we need security guards, but if measures were put in place where it was difficult for anyone who is not a teacher to get into a school building, then a larger blanket of security for all the students would be in place.

Random Pictures From School

French Corner.  Lately we have been learning the European Union countries--in French!

French Corner. Lately we have been learning the European Union countries–in French!

I like the look of this a lot, and the kids use it for their writing needs.  I will probably take some of the VCOP teaching strategies back home with me.

I like the look of this a lot, and the kids use it for their writing needs. I will probably take some of the VCOP teaching strategies back home with me.

My math wall is a little shallow these days, but the American flag is flying high.

My math wall is a little shallow these days, but the American flag is flying high.

A tough day at Waltham.  These ladies are, from L to R, Sandra, Chris, and Elizabeth.  All were let go due to our redundancies.  They were honoured with their own assembly where we presented them with gifts, shared memories, and cards from the staff and students.  A very emotional day indeed.

A tough day at Waltham. These ladies are, from L to R, Sandra, Chris, and Elizabeth. All were let go due to our redundancies. They were honoured with their own assembly where we presented them with gifts, shared memories, and cards from the staff and students. A very emotional day indeed.

Spring Flowers, though the cold wind and rain has returned.

Spring Flowers, though the cold wind and rain has returned.

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2 thoughts on “School Security

  1. It’s been chilly here today, too. I watched Jacob at Lacrosse practice this evening. I wore overalls and a heavy jacket, and still felt a bit cold.

  2. Loss of a job in mid-year? Tough stuff. I agree that U.S. schools are too open to the public. Higher security shouldn’t require fire arms to be effective. As always, thanks for sharing this info.

    Regards, Jim

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