Utah Valley schools update school shooting security measures

"If we want to invest in our future, we have to invest in schools, and we have to invest in security for schools."

Students gather during a vigil at Pine Trails Park for the victims of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla. Nikolas Cruz, a former student, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

BYU senior Makenna Olsen said she’s had nightmares about school shootings.

“It seems like it’s becoming such a trend in our nation,” Olsen said.

As an elementary ed major who has visited different schools in the area, Olsen said every time she goes into a new school, one of the first things she thinks about is exit options and what she would do in that particular situation if an active shooter situation occurred.

“I for sure think that schools need to amp up security,” Olsen said. “If we want to invest in our future, we have to invest in schools and we have to invest in security for schools.”

The Gun Violence Archive defines a school shooting as “an incident that occurs on property of the elementary, secondary or college campus where there is a death or injury from gunfire.”

Two decades ago in 1999, the nation was devastated by one of the most significant U.S. school shootings in history at Columbine High School in Colorado. According to an article by the Center for American Progress, “state and federal governments immediately responded to the Columbine shooting by investing in visible security measures such as school resource officers (SROs), metal detectors and surveillance equipment.”

Since 1999, there have been several school shootings and other mass shootings in the United States. With the increase of national school and mass shootings, issues on gun control and school safety have been debated nationally.

In 2018, America had 113 deaths as a result of school shootings, according to an article by BBC News.

According to the Association for Learning Environments, “Public education is being scrutinized today. Safety for school children has the nation’s attention. Every aspect of educational safety and security is under review and school districts are contemplating best practices to employ to safeguard both students and staff.”  

Provo City and Alpine school districts have taken initiative in response to national and school shootings to make schools in the area more safe.

Caleb Price, Provo City School District communications director, said safety at schools is one of the district’s priorities.

“The district has done a lot of work with secure entrances, security cameras and classroom doors that are easily locked from the inside of the classroom,” Price said. “The district has also done a lot to address mental and social-emotional health of students.”

Alpine School District Board President Scott Carlson said the district has also done a lot to improve school security over the last decade. Some of these features include secure entry points, cameras, classroom-door locks, operations protocols and procedures with local law enforcement.

Two changes have been made in the Alpine district to improve student safety. The first is the inclusion of a push-button on classroom door locks which allows teachers to leave the classroom to lock the doors. The other is a secured entry at the front of the school that stops anyone from coming into the building before going through the front office.

Mike Browning, director of operations for Alpine School District and overseer of the district safety committee, said the the district has come a long way in the last six years with taking precautions and incorporating more security.

“We are not afraid, but we are aware and we’re preparing. We’ve got great plans in place,” Browning said.

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