Highland Implements New Safety Policies


Noah Herridge

Principal Chris Jenson and vice principal Jon Jensen watch over the cafeteria during lunch.

Grace Ojewia, News Editor

Rose Spring Elementary School in Stansbury Park in Tooele County might just be the safest school in the U.S. The new system of Won Doors can wall off an area of the school with the push of button. At Highland, you can’t exactly successfully attempt to slide under a closing door in an emergency, but the administration and the district are making safety their top priority.
With the tragic events that have been happening all over the nation, the district is really making an effort to ramp up security measures in schools. Policies and actions that are based on safety are being implemented. The district along with the Salt Lake City police department all came together to create responses for different emergencies.
A new booklet was created that complied these new policies together with step by step instructions for how to handle different situations. Over the summer teachers and administrators were put through a safety training class, done by the district, where they were taught about new safety protocols.
The class taught each of the steps for all the emergencies the booklet covered from intruders to earthquakes and so on. One example of a new protocol that was created is a change from the previous system of run-hide-fight to A.D.D. or avoid-deny-defend.

“We don’t want you to actively go out and fight an individual who has a weapon or is trying to hurt you,” detective Uppson Downes, a school resource officer said. “We want you to be prepared to defend yourself and your classmates. Instead of just running, know where you are running. We don’t want you to just hide and hope you don’t get hurt. We want you to deny them access however you can.”
Many of these changes come as the verbiage for national standards are changing. As new situations also arise new responses are often needed. For example, with the shooting that happened last year at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada was the first time with a massacre where a shooter from the inside of a building was shooting people outside. Police and law enforcement had to then take a scenario like that into consideration when creating safety standards.
For easier communication throughout the school during emergencies, the district initiated the use of a new electronic messaging system called DIR-S. Previously administrators, school resource officers, and school security personnel would have radios to talk with each other. The radios got signal repeaters installed which gave them a wider range of use, so now they can be used from all ends of the school. It was hard to communicate with teachers during times of need, however, because they did not have access to radios.
Having one system where every teacher and administrator has access to could help prevent confusing and get information out sooner. If the situation in an emergency changed, DIR-S would help get the word out to teachers much quicker than it would be on the intercom or through text. It is a user friendly system which makes it easier to use in an emergency when it is hard to think straight. Teachers can also update the status of their area of the school on a map on the system.
“I could on my phone pull up the school map and check if these rooms are green and if they are then we’re good,” Principal Chris Jenson said. “I have high hopes for it and the thing that DIR-S addresses is communication with teachers.”
Currently teachers are trying to sign onto it and administrators are trying to use it, so for now it is still being figured out. The system would allow users to access it on mobile devices and computers which the administration believes could help in times of need.
With regards to emergencies, the football stadium was designated as the school’s primary evacuation site. The previous evacuation site was the stake center down Parley’s Way, although in recent years there has never been an evacuation to that area.
The close proximity of the stadium to the school makes it a great place for evacuation as it is easier to get there. There are also several ways to get to the football stadium from the school and it is large enough to fit everyone, making it an ideal evacuation site.
Some new investments on security were also made. All classrooms in the buildings are all set to be equipped with stop blocks that allow a door to be locked, but propped open so people can get in. In the case of an emergency, teachers can easily move the stop block and the door is locked rather than going outside and locking the door.
New security cameras were also added to different areas of the school. There tends to be new additions every summer as better quality cameras with more abilities are installed. A new camera near the front entrances, for example is in a lower position than a lot of the older cameras creating the ability to see more details and giving a wider viewing range. Principal Jenson believes that security cameras are actually one of the most useful tools in solving problems.
The biggest focus with safety that Jenson emphasizes on doing is preparing and being able to respond correctly to anything that happens. Before the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, schools in the U.S. did not really prepare for things such as active shooters and bomb threats. Yet, as different threats have become more prominent, school safety has grown to encompass so much more than it did twenty years ago. As technology has changed, Highland has welcomed a lot of new changes with the hope that in the end the campus is a safe place to learn.