By Sam Isenberg and Luke McLaughlin, Seniors
Due to the increased prevalence of mass shootings, the threat of a school shooting has been the worry of many students for the past decade. The threat has become more real for iPrep students in the past year, as we all know that the last school massacre took place in Parkland, less than 50 miles from iPrep.
Miami Dade County Public Schools is taking measures to prevent another attack, such as implementing metal detectors and clear backpacks. What is Dade-County doing and are these measures reactive or proactive? We spoke to Assistant Principal Gonzales to get some answers.
The biggest safety improvement implemented into Dade Schools was a county-wide improvement of the Code Red protocol. Each school now has designated safe zones for students and teachers. “I feel so much better having an area that is closed in for you guys because you won't be visible,” commented Mrs. Gonzalez. “Bottom line you'll be behind a closed door with a lock. That's the safest place for you to be.” Schools will also begin locking all doors during school hours and enforcing mandatory IDs for all students and staff to make sure everybody belongs in the right place.
The measures the Miami-Dade County Public School system are taking are definitely reactive. These actions would not have been taken if it had not been for the tragedy in Parkland. At the same time, these actions are helping to prevent another tragedy, making it proactive. Mrs Gonzalez commented on this issue, “Obviously, the topic of safety has been heightened unfortunately by the tragedies at Parkland a year ago. In a sense, that's reactive because a devastation happened. For Miami-Dade, it is proactive because we have seen what has happened in other parts of the country. We are going to take proactive steps to make sure all of our students will be safe.”
The most important thing a student can do to help prevent another tragedy is “See something, say something,” urged Mrs. Gonzalez. “I know that is such a Kindergarten thing to say, but those rules apply so much more now. It's still something we have to do. It might seem silly, but it is definitely something that had to be done.” She later added, “The other thing that is quick and you have such control over is your I.Ds. That is something that has been very pressing since last year. This is something that we continue to push every single day. We need to make sure you are identified and that we know you belong.”
The Miami-Dade County Public School system is making great strides to ensure the safety of every student. The actions being taken should not just be classified are definitely a reaction to the tragedy at MSD. However, the new measures should not be considered a mere reaction because they are proactive in ensuring another tragedy takes place.
Interview with Ms. Gonzalez:
Me: What are the new policies that are being implemented?
G: Something that is very new that I am very happy about because it was quite a feat to accomplish and it's something that we had been working on. We were able to get every classroom in the upper academy into a safe closed in area during a code red. You know how previously you guys would go to your break out area? That's a little comfortable for us so Officer Hart and I walked the building with the input of the teachers and we were able to find a location closed in that when I call a code red, the teacher would know what area to take you to so that makes me feel more comfortable. Is that a school or district wide initiative? Its both. It is a district wide initiative to have safe zones in the classrooms. As far as the school, because we are unique in our setting, our areas are a little bit different but it is district wide where every school has an area that is going to be labeled as your safe area. Our school we just had to manipulate because we are so open.
Me: Do you believe that these are the right steps that iPrep should be taking toward improved school safety?
G: Absolutely 100%. I feel so much better having an area that is closed in for you guys because you won't be visible. Bottom line you'll be behind a closed door with a lock. That's the safest place for you to be. Now this main hallway, it's like a dungeon, you close it in and that's it. In prior years, that worked. But now having this extra step of precaution helped with an extra step to safety.
Me: Do you think there is anything more that can be done to help ensure the safety of iPrep?
G: I think we are in a really good position. We are in a unique setting and some quirks that we had to work out because of where we are. We are not in a normal school building we are in an office building. Ironing out those kinks and being able to find a location for everybody that is the best thing we have done and implemented as far as safety protocols and procedures. However, taking a positive side to this, because we are in a district office we can work parallel with the district guards so that's always another plus for us. We have our own security guard and we have district guards who are always on the same radio where we can communicate. So if something is going on out there we can immediately find out. The other thing that we have is Mister Simons, who now sits in the front of the school with a Raptor system in the event that we have a visitor they can be immediate stopped. If there is somebody who has an appointment, they can swipe their license and get a visitor sticker and they are processed.
Me: Do you believe that these policies are reactive or proactive?
G: Obviously, the topic of safety has been heightened unfortunately by the tragedies at Parkland a year ago. In a sense, that's reactive because a devastation happened. For Miami-Dade, it is proactive because we have seen what has happened in other parts of the country. We are going to take proactive steps to make sure all of our students will be safe. I think particularly in this school, we have taken extra initiatives just for the comfort of safety.
Me: What can students do to help make iPrep a safe environment? List of things students can do:
See something, say something. I know that is such a Kindergarten thing to say, but those rules apply so much more now. It's still something we have to do. It might seem silly, but it is definitely something that had to be done. Trust your gut. If you see someone in the building, and you feel something in your gut that isn't right, you need to tell an adult. So many things can be stopped or prevented just from that instinct of needing to say something. That goes to every level of safety. If you see someone down, or they’re having a really bad day, inform the administration so we can intervene and make sure they are okay. The other thing that is quick and you have such control over is your IDs . That is something that has been very pressing since last year. This is something that we continue to push every single day. We need to make sure you are identified and that we know you belong.
Some things to know about me include my pride in my Jewish culture. I am a big fan of music and story-rich games such as Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced edition.
I have a passion for culture and art from all over the world, such as music and video games.