By Justin Robertson
The new Glenelg High School security and safety policies, adopted for the 2018-2019 school year are being enforced to keep us as safe as possible. However, these policies create numerous problems for students and staff due to vague explanations. Despite only being implemented for about a month, specific issues regarding entering the building and the new buzzer system have been discovered by students.
One of the new policies is the allowed entrance time for students. Unlike previous years, students are no longer able to enter the school as early as needed, but instead can only enter at 7:00 AM. This applies to all entrances, including the side and back doors of the school. The first complication with this policy is the process of letting students get into the building. The main front entrance, where all bus riders enter the school, is often opened a few minutes after 7:00 AM. Glenelg Junior Chris Retzbach says, “I wish it was 10 minutes earlier, like 6:50, so students could meet with teachers.” Some students, like Retzbach, arrive before 7:00 AM to get work done in a distraction-free environment. These few minutes can seem insignificant, but many students use the 20 minutes prior to class to print assignments out in the Media Center, study for tests, or meet with a teacher. Every minute that is wasted opening the doors is valuable time for students. Glenelg Junior and basketball player David Kelley says, “I think that [the new entry rule] is not a good rule because for basketball because we used to come in early in practice, but now we can’t without it being difficult.” Currently, students may turn in a signed teacher note to gain entrance to the front office, but this process can also take away time.
Additionally, as the year progresses, students will be waiting outside the building in frigid and wintry weather. As a bus rider, I know that waiting outside in pitch black darkness and freezing temperatures is brutal. The most frustrating part will be that a set of doors is the only thing separating freezing students and the warmth of the school. New Assistant Principal Mr. Neugebauer says, “Busses are not supposed to release students off the bus until 7:00 AM.” Contradictory to what is supposed to happen, bus drivers often release students before 7:00 AM. Also, while this is a policy, the front doors are often opened a minute or two later than 7:00 AM. This issue needs to be addressed quickly before winter arrives in the coming months. In an anonymous poll for Glenelg students, over 55 percent of respondents said this new policy is problematic. The complication for moving the entry time before 7:00 AM is that teachers are not required to be in the building until 7:10 AM. Neugebauer says, “Duty for administrators does not start until 7:00 AM, and for staff it does not start until 7:10 AM, so there would not be any supervision for students.” If students were in the building 20 minutes before many teachers arrive, there would not be enough staff to watch all the students. A solution for this is for all students to be allowed in the building when the busses let the students off, but contained in one large space, such as the cafeteria or gym. If busses follow the policy of not letting students off until 7:00 AM, then there would be enough administrators to watch the students in one large space.
The addition of the new buzzer at the front entrance is a necessary addition to ensure our safety, but the only entrance that has one is the front entrance. The buzzer forces any person to buzz in and ask permission to enter the building between 7:20 AM and 2:10 PM. Since many students enter through back and side entrances, adding buzzer systems to all entrances would be a simple solution to prevent problems entering the building. When students are late to school, they could still park where they usually do, and prove their identity through the buzzer allowing access to the school.
Some students and staff argue that the new policies and security implementations are effective because they do what they are meant to do: protect the school. They might also say that, complications with the new policies, safety has to be the priority. However, even with safety being regarded with utmost importance, students and staff can practice it, while also fixing the problems with the new implementations.
With all these new changes to our school, students are confused about how and why the changes are being implemented. In an anonymous poll for Glenelg students, 81 percent of the respondents said they have not received clear explanations for the new changes. Students should have been told why the changes were made during the start of the year assembly. If students could understand why these changes are occurring, then they would be more likely to accept them and know what to do in different situations.
While these obstacles are present in our school and need solutions, we also must understand that the administrators and policy makers are attempting to keep us safe. Hopefully, in the coming months, tweaks to the current policies will be made so we can be safe and productive simultaneously.