Our view | Take time to keep kids safe at school

August 28, 2013 

In schools, like baseball, it’s best to be safe.

This fall sees local school administrators — spurred by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., last December and an alleged case of stalking in State College this year — taking extra measures to protect students and staff.

In the Bellefonte Area School District, visitors at all school buildings now will pass first through a buzzer entrance to a vestibule-type window. There, school secretaries will slide driver’s licenses through scanners that check identities against the state Megan’s Law database for registered sex offenders.

If visitors pass muster, secretaries will open a second buzzer door to the main building. The district expects Bellefonte and Pleasant Gap elementary schools, the last two schools retrofitted, to be ready by the first day of school on Tuesday.

State College Area High School students return this week to a change: buildings locked down during classes. A newly installed electronic-door system will allow movement between buildings only during class changes.

At all other times, visitors must be buzzed in at certain locations: the auditorium doors and the Logan Avenue entrance for the North Building, and the lobby doors closest to the main office for the South Building.

The district adopted the tighter security after an alumnus in his 20s, invited to sit in on a class, began a relationship with a student. When that soured, the student told administrators she didn’t feel safe at school, and the alumnus was barred from the SCAHS campus. After a police investigation, he faces stalking charges.

In both districts, the additions promise a certain amount of inconvenience. To which, we urge patience.

Safety’s worth a little delay.

We already must stop for loading and unloading school buses, regardless of whether we’re in a hurry or late for work. Endangering young lives for the sake of a few minutes not only is illegal, it’s indefensible.

During the school year, smart people who travel along bus routes in the morning or afternoon build in extra time to get to their destinations.

Do the same when visiting schools. While we’re not fans of schools becoming fortresses, we applaud school officials walking the walk when it comes to safeguarding children. If they’re overreacting, as some might argue, then they’re erring on the side of caution.

But all the safety measures in the world are only as good as the people implementing and obeying them. Have your ID ready, refrain from foot-tapping and don’t try to slip in behind someone else, as a man with a loaded AK-47 did recently at an Atlanta school.

An office worker successfully talked the gunman into peacefully surrendering, but it was too close for comfort.

Local schools are trying to lessen the odds of a tragedy.

Our time is a small price to pay.

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