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The safety of BFA

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The safety of BFA

Owen Biniecki, Writer

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The safety of our school and the wellbeing of its students is imperative. With horrific events such as the Parkland shooting that took place on Feb. 14, 2018, there has been rising fear of how safe students and children, are, especially when BFA had a scare and emergency dismissal just ten days after the Parkland tragedy.

David French, the Student Resource Officer at BFA, played a part in devising the current Crisis Response Commands, and is knowledgeable about the subject of school safety.

“It’s collaborative, the BFA and Tech Center have a safety committee and also the Maple Run district itself has a safety committee, so between the two that’s where [the Crisis Response Commands] was devised from. The terms themselves are being used throughout the country, so it’s very easy for people who have been putting these plans together for decades… you know, we obviously use what works, so we steal, if you will, from them,” French said.

These commands are also a relatively new procedure, communicated with orange papers that detail the individual responses to various situations, being Secure the School, Lockdown, Evacuate the Building, and Emergency Dismissal, respectively.

“These specific ones I believe were [implemented] last year, the orange paper was put in last year, but they’re always fluid, different things change depending on different scenarios and what we see during drills and what we see during actual events, things are always changing,” French said.

The fact that these procedures are relatively new may be a source of doubt to many, however, French remains confident in the system we have, and believes last year’s response time is an assurance enough

“We did have a “day of” emergency dismissal the beginning of last semester, and the entire campus was completely evacuated within 28 minutes, which a dismissal is not necessarily an emergency type of thing, so I’m not a huge fan of the wording, however, it gets the point across that people just need to leave. So it’s not a stressful scenario, but to get everybody off a campus including students being bused to Collins Perley, and students finding rides and what not in 28 minutes is pretty good,” French said.

While the school administration and law enforcement’s response to the threats the school received is a source of assurance for many, some parents have displayed concern and anger toward their response, even when there are now measures in place to keep them informed.

“We actually have information that is sent out to the parents, I am starting to put together another piece of information to go out to parents as well… it’s just a matter of educating, you know, if a parent believes their children may not be safe, they’re more than welcome to sit down and hear their concerns because it may be something we overlooked,” French said.

Another possible source of concern for parents is the apparent lack of information the school communicated. According to French, getting information from the school requires that parents volunteer to receive messages, calls, and emails.

“For information there is, I thought at first that everyone was signed up on our Alert Now program so that they get a text message, they get a phone call, and they get an email. Parents actually have to sign up for that on their own, that’s a voluntary basis, so that’s one of the things we’re pushing for, that exact information will be sent to parents soon,” French said.

On the basis of communication and sharing information, French also wishes students were better informed about these incidents.

“I think a whole program should  be put together, however, it should be voluntary, I don’t want to distract from [students] learning here. So, I don’t want students to have to come to BFA and constantly have in the back of their mind that they need to be on vigilance… but just to be mindful of things around them that they can notice. So the main role of students is to come here and to learn, and to enjoy the environment that they’re learning in, so they don’t have to be fearful when they come here. However, training would be very good, but just having a basic knowledge of what to do during a drill, what to do during an actual event, and learning those things and repeating those things are going to hold true in the end,” French said.

Above all else, French wishes for the gap in communication between the school, parents, and students to close further, as getting feedback and further knowledge is considerably important for his position.

“In order to protect our students and to protect our faculty, there has to be a connection, so that’s the biggest thing that I’m finding…. So when people come to me and say “hey, do you think we should do this?” It’s either, one, no, we shouldn’t do that; or two, I haven’t thought of that before, yes, let’s try it; or three, we have thought of that before and it doesn’t work. So, in any instance, feedback to us is great. Whenever we have a drill we ask for feedback from the teachers, and we normally accept it, and we always discuss any feedback we receive. So, that’s the biggest obstacle I run into is I can’t be everywhere in one place when we have these drills, so having people give me their input is huge; knowledge is power. So as long as people can connect with us, and I can connect with them on any matter it’ll help me with the protection of the school,” French said.

Will Dumont (‘21) has provided his perspective on the topic of school safety, and agrees with French about information being passed between the school and its students.

“I think students should know more about what the best strategy is for keeping safe for each classroom they are in throughout the day. I think that if each teacher reviewed where to go in a lockdown and what the different ways to escape the building or move into a classroom are, that would help tremendously in a [real] situation,” Dumont said.

Though Dumont’s thoughts align with communication, he doesn’t believe the drill was a beneficial experience.

“I don’t think that the drill a couple weeks ago brought any benefit to student’s safety during a scenario. Personally, during that drill I went to the cafeteria, yet during a real emergency I would probably try to walk to a friend’s house so I could get off campus immediately,” Dumont said.

If the student body shares Dumont’s perspective, that means the current procedures for these crisis situations are severely flawed, and need to be changed, especially if many others would purposefully act against the current plans in concern for their individual safety. If anyone would make changes to the current commands, French is open to change, contacting him at [email protected].

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