Savannah Payne / highlights
Closing the Gates: The Cons of New School Policy
Following the recent events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl, Miami-Dade County Public Schools have implemented new regulations to increase school safety. The recent limitation to school entrances, while an effort to decrease potential school threats, is misguided and unproductive.
Students have seen a reinforced uniform policy in past weeks as it has been mandated that students wear a school ID and abide by the dress code at all times. These changes have been unwelcomed by many students that have grown comfortable with the loose uniform policy and believe uniform does not protect students from outside imposters.
“[The recent school entrance change] is a necessary evil given the circumstances with recent events at Parkland. Ultimately, I think the decision was very reactionary and is not so in effect this year as students have gotten used to previous policies. It creates a lot of unwanted confusion,” senior Catherine Healy said.
On April 9, the school moved the attendance office from being a part of the Ralph Moore “New” Building to the front of the school near the main office. To limit access points to the school and increase safety, all entrances to the school are now inaccessible during school hours except for the Bird Road entrance in front of the school. With this change, teachers and administrators that regularly park in the front of the school are now moved to the faculty parking lot on the Le Jeune Road side to make room for visitors.
By closing the gates to both the Riviera Drive and Le Jeune Road parking lots, students and visitors have to go through the front of the school, a less centralized location. With this one-entrance-into-school change, the attendance office has been moved. The school already closes off the front half of the building for first lunch, so the attendance office is not available to access during lunch, the usual hours to get absences and tardies excused. Because of this, the time allotted to students to excuse attendance issues has been moved to before. Students can now get absences and tardies excused before school starting at 6:30 a.m. to 7:10 a.m., even though these new times have not been publicly announced to the student population. The early morning change can be a problem for students that must take the bus and are not in control of coming to school early or staying later to resolve issues.
“People are still going back to the old [attendance] office. It will take some getting used to. I think the [single entrance] is a good thing. Anything to keep the kids safe is a good thing,” Secretary of attendance Kathy Napoli said.
Issues from blocking off the remaining school entrances during school hours have already arisen. Students with parking permits who get to school late are blocked from entering the parking lot. They must park in the front of the school, check in, receive a late pass and then with their late pass, the stationed security guard at the Riveria Drive entrance may open up the student parking lot gate for the individual. This operation takes up more time than necessary from a student’s in-class learning time.
While an attempt should be made in making the school safer, the recent actions have been wasted efforts in the wrong areas. Limiting school entrances, suddenly enforcing the uniform policy and moving the attendance office does not promote school safety, but instead fosters confusion, frustration and pointlessness.