Safety is Still an Illusion

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Safety is Still an Illusion

A panorama of the gymnasium during the peak of the morning rush, minutes before bag searches were stopped.

A panorama of the gymnasium during the peak of the morning rush, minutes before bag searches were stopped.

Emma Taylor

A panorama of the gymnasium during the peak of the morning rush, minutes before bag searches were stopped.

Emma Taylor

Emma Taylor

A panorama of the gymnasium during the peak of the morning rush, minutes before bag searches were stopped.

Emma Taylor, Editor-in-Chief

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Lafayette High School has made two attempts at searching students’ bags, and the conditions seem to worsen with each attempt. The mornings of October 1st and 2nd were the second attempt of the second phase. After the first attempt on September 12th failed, administration re-evaluated their plan. 12 days later, Lafayette’s administration sent an emailing detailing a new three phase plan, which was set to span over a few weeks, beginning on September 26th.

The first phase of the new plan was to limit how students enter the building. Students are now only allowed to enter the building through the exterior gym doors on the side of the school. This caused complaints from students who ride SCAPA buses because of how far they have to walk every morning, despite the weather. Even with the complaints, the first phase worked and got students into the building in a timely manner. The second phase, however, did not work as smoothly.

The biggest rush of students comes around 7:55 to 8:00 AM when buses arrive at school. Around this time, lines began to grow and the crowd got bigger and bigger. Soon, the entire gym was filled with students trying to enter school. The line eventually reached outside and students had to wait outside of the gym doors. When this happened, administrators called to stop bag searches and allow students to enter the building as usual. When asked why bag searches were stopped in the midst of the morning rush, administration said, “It didn’t flow smoothly.”

Students’ responses to the events of October 1st were mixed. Many students were not aware of the fact bag searches stopped around 8:05 a.m., due to them arriving before the lines grew or after they died down. These students mostly thought the process wasn’t bad. Those who arrived during the 8:00 rush say the lines were bad and the process was ineffective. Some students even compared the procedure to airport security, due to the long lines.

When they arrived to school Wednesday morning, October 2nd, students expected the procedure to be different. Upon entering the school building at 7:30, bag searches proceeded as usual. Students who arrived in the 8:00 rush, however, found themselves not having their bags checked. Just like the previous morning, bag searches were stopped in the midst of this rush.

The large group of students crowded into the gym brought the idea of being “sitting ducks” back to the table. In fact, filtering students through the gym possibly worsens this situation. Previously, on September 12th, students were crowded outside in two separate lines on either side of the building. Now that everyone is filing through the gym, a vast majority of the student body is grouped together in one confined area with nowhere to run or hide in the case of an emergency. This is one of the biggest concerns among students.

Another concern brought up by students is how vocational students exit the building. Before entering the gym foyer, there is a small hallway with a set of doors that lead to the bus/band lot. One of these doors is unlocked so vocational students can exit the school and go to their bus for their classes. This could possibly be used by students to bypass the metal detectors, if someone lets them in.

It is understandably hard to find a safe way to enter the building with more than 2,300 students. There will be a lot of testing and changes until the most efficient way is found.