With the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, many are questioning how we can increase safety to prevent intruders with guns from entering schools. The problem is, every school is different, and must come up with a plan specific to what the district and building can allow. I decided to ask Mr. Affeldt on his opinion on how Memorial can take steps in the right direction after this tragic event.
What do you think every school needs in order to be as safe as possible?
“I think school safety begins with strong, trusting relationships among students and staff, and with true engagement in classrooms. Our school vision is based on the belief that all students can be successful if they are well-understood and well-supported, and that’s on all of us. Working together, we can make sure every single student is well-understood, well-supported, and truly connected to our school community. Beyond that, school safety requires strong routines and procedures, including regular drills and practice, and a consistent focus on safety, including making any necessary changes or updates to protocols. Lastly, open and transparent communication among everyone in the school community is also critical, sharing any helpful information when we notice or sense something that isn’t right.”
Do you think metal detectors are a good thing to have in schools to prevent weapons from entering schools?
“This is a current debate nationwide in school communities, and in larger urban centers is common for school entrances to include metal detectors, while this is not yet common in smaller communities. Madison falls in between, and for us it is an ongoing conversation. While I do believe that for some the presence of detectors implies an additional layer of safety, I also believe it makes a school feel completely different, and less like a healthy learning environment.”
What can students do to keep themselves safe?
“Students should stay as engaged in school as possible, and ideally by also being involved in extracurricular activities. This leads to stronger relationships and connections to classmates, which is at the heart of being safe. Students also benefit from building strong, trusting relationships with staff, so that if ever necessary students are comfortable asking for help, sharing concerns, or any helpful information to maintain a safe learning environment.”
If a student is concerned about another student’s behavior and believes they are a safety threat, what is the best way for a student to report that?
“Open communication, and the willingness to share information, is critical to maintaining a safe environment. Students should share any concerns regarding safety with any staff member they trust, who can immediately relay that information to our administrators and security staff.”
– Kari Larsen