Schools address gun violence

SYDNEY BOSSIDIS
STAFF WRITER

Graphic by Merek Alam

Apr. 19, 2019 was the 20- year anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School. Since then there have been over 200 incidents national wide. With students returning to school, questions on gun control and safety in classrooms have been raised.

On Sept. 18, Sandy Hook Promise, a non-violence group with the purpose of educating others on knowing the signs of gun violence founded in 2012 by the parents of the Sandy Hook victims, released a back-to-school video.

The video begins with students showing off their newest supplies but then shows a boy running in his new shoes, a young girl using her jacket to hold a door closed and students armed with a pair of scissors and colored pencils near a door.

The video includes a warning regarding graphic content but was made to bring awareness to the situation in schools.

Fruitport Community Schools will be opening a new high school in the summer of 2021 designed to deter active shooters and enhance the safety of the students. This will be replacing their current high school built in the 1950s. The school received a grant for $404,707 from the Michigan State Police to build this school.

The school will have curved hallways to limit to distance an active shooter would be able to see. Concrete “wing walls,” which are slabs of concrete extruding from the wall into a walkway, will be built-in to provide a place for students to hide behind and be protected.

Additionally, the windows will be covered in impact resistant films with the purpose of slowing down anyone who tries to break it. There will also be doors with access control locks that administrators can use to compartmentalize the building to prevent a shooter from reaching other areas.

The design was chosen to minimalize the visual aspects while increasing the safety measures.

On Sept. 9, Addison Community Schools in southeast Michigan in had a public discussion about whether their employees should be allowed to carry guns on school property. It has been a topic for over a year.

The question to follow would be whether guns could be carried open or concealed. The idea is to counter to local police’s slower response times of up to 28 minutes and offer another form of protection for students.

Other measures have been put in place at the school including film over the windows and 60 additional security cameras with a grant from the Michigan State Police.

After the public forum, the school’s safety committee will meet to make a decision. It will then go the school board for a vote. Addison County would be the first district in the state to allow teachers to carry if approved. In July 2018, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled it was up to the district to make a decision on whether or not guns are allowed on the premises.

Alma College is taking their own measures to ensure students’ safety in the case of an emergency. Karl Rishe, Vice President of Student Affairs, became ALICE certified in 2018 to teach others. Staff and faculty have been trained through a 30-minute online course and then a hour in person training session.

Students will receive ALICE training through a seven-minute video the school will send out. It will outline the “Run, Hide, Fight” model.

ALICE is a nationally renown program used to educate people on how to respond in an emergency. It stands for “alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate” and is used to replace the traditional lockdown procedures.

Last spring, there was an active shooter drill for those trained without students to become familiar with the program. There will be a drill with students in the upcoming months working with Alma as well as Michigan State Police.

“ALICE is reactionary. [The] counseling center, all of our reach out, all of those things are precautionary,” said Rishe.

This is part of a two-year plan, with a grant from the Michigan State Police, for two local counties for all the schools ranging from Alma College to Alma High School and Bridge Port. Once the drill with students is completed the school will be a ALICE certified institution.

“ALICE training is really encompassing of almost anything we could want,” said Rishe. It includes safety kits in every classroom ranging from first aid and tourniquets to mechanisms to lock doors.

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