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Staff meeting first thing in the morning. The superintendent addressed the staff with some new changes. First, every classroom will be locked and the doors will be closed during instructional time. Second, nobody leaves the classroom without a hall pass. Third, A security consultant arrived at 11:00 to advise us on how to install a buzzer at the front door with an intercom system and a closed circuit camera monitoring the entrance. Fourth, all visitors that enter the building must have a visitors badge. Fifth, we ordered stanchions for the front, the kind of posts and barriers that will direct all traffic to the office door.
If these precautions seem to be the kinds of things that should have been in place all along, let me explain a bit about my town and my school. I am the assistant principal and a teacher at a very small K-12 school with 200 total students in the district. We are all in one beautiful building. The outside grounds are litter free and the interior misleads people into believing our building is quite new when it is actually over 20 years old. My town has a permanent, year-round population of about 800 people. We are high up in the mountains and this time of year we are basically at the end of the road. (15 inches of new snow on the ground and snowing hard as I write this.) We have small class sizes and students call teachers by their first names. We all know each other and parents and teachers socialize a lot. We don't lock our houses and we leave our keys in the car. But after Sandy Hook our parents are scared. After Sandy Hook I am still somewhat in shock.
As of today, Mrs. Smith will not be allowed to bring the lunch sack her son left on the kitchen counter and drop it off in his classroom. No more will those three responsible high school girls be allowed to work their group projects in the hallway. No more will Mike and Sammi be trusted to leave class to get a drink or to use the restroom without carrying a "passport." No more will parents just walk into the building and drop in on their son or daughter's first grade classroom. And I am very saddened by this. Gun violence on the other side of the continent has forced us into being something we have resisted for a long time.