by Hena Hussain ‘20
Following the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, school security has been a topic of increased discussion.
According to messages sent out by MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith, certain steps are taken by MCPS to keep students and staff safe in case of an emergency. For example, all schools are required to have emergency preparedness drills, which include lockdowns, shelters in place, and evacuations. Smith also wrote about MCPS’ previous and current cooperation with law enforcement, mentioning the Schools Resource Officer (SRO) program in which police officers work with schools to improve safety. MCPS also takes steps to secure school buildings, including using visitor management systems and surveillance cameras.
Increased security measures have also been implemented at Sherwood, such as the signs on all doors warning students to not prop them open or let people in to prevent unauthorized visitors from entering the school. However, Principal William Gregory says that the signs are not related to the recent school shootings. “It was actually us that [put the signs up] and not something that came from MCPS,” said Gregory. During meetings on security, the issue of people keeping doors open came up, and the signs were a way to combat that issue. Gregory pointed out the need to keep students and staff safe in emergency situations.
“We’ve always taken school safety and security very seriously,” Gregory said. “We all have to make sure we keep one another safe.”
Another security measure that can be seen at Sherwood is the installation of new latch door magnets on the door frames of all the classrooms. This change was implemented on April 24 by MCPS in order to provide additional security to classrooms. The devices allow doors to be secured quickly in case of an emergency, and are used in schools across the country.
The new security door lock magnets are part of a 45-Day Action Plan being enacted by MCPS, which is in direct response to the recent school shootings. The Plan highlights other safety measures as well, including a review of access control systems and current emergency response protocols and performance of additional safety drills above the state minimum requirement