New Safety Measures Frighten Students at Highland


Claire Sophie Malinka-Thompson, Staff Writer

On September 26, students were interrupted halfway through their second period class with a frightening message, “Teachers, lock your doors. We are on hold.” This message implies danger and instantly causes students to get off track. This is partly because this command is not something that they have ever heard before.

In 2021, the Salt Lake City School District released a new safety protocol for emergency purposes. This protocol is full of language and commands that seem frightening and intense. While this protocol makes emergency procedures safer and more effective, it is hard to protect the student body if the student body doesn’t know what any of the instructions mean.

“[The DIR-S system] is super scary. Sorry about that,” Chatterton said, concerning the alarm that occurred during the secure alert. “We have a system on our computers called DIR-S, which should be used in emergency situations.”

Students are unfamiliar with this new system, which caused more fear than intended. This is why it is important that students are aware of the safety protocols in place at their school.

The first level of instruction is “Hold.” This means that the hallways should be cleared, students return to classrooms and teachers should lock the doors. This level of protocol does not mean that the students are in danger and should continue business as usual inside the classroom. The next level is “Secure.” This is one step up and means that students should remain more aware, due to a potential threat. Typically, students are not actually in danger and business should remain normal. The third level is “Lockdown.” This means that every person inside the building should hide and remain silent; a threat is present inside the building. After lockdown comes “Evacuate.” At this point, every person on the campus should move to a different location. The final, and most extreme is “Shelter.” This means drop, cover and hold, a phrase that students have most likely heard before.

Each of these instructions are listed in a handbook, along with many other emergency protocols from utility breaks to hostage situations that provide more specific information. This handbook is present in every Highland Highschool classroom and available for students to view.

The Salt Lake City School District has done numerous things to promote and maintain the safety of each and every student over the years. The district website provides information to students and parents on their protocols and sends live updates, via the website.

“School safety is a topic we wish we didn’t have to address, but it has become more crucial than ever for our schools and our students to be prepared for any emergency. Please know that the responsibility to keep your students safe while they are in our care is our highest priority,” the Salt Lake City School District website stated. “No system is 100% foolproof, but we are doing everything in our power to keep students safe. Thank you for your continued support as we work to keep our schools and students safe.”

It is important that students remain calm and informed in every situation. All faculty and staff attend annual safety training that teaches all of this information. If ever in an emergency situation, stay safe and follow instructions.