Locked doors better than nothing

Despite backlash, new security policy proves AISD cares


Kristin Tibbetts

Senior Sarah Slaten waits for someone to open the back door in the hallway across from the front entrace, which usually does no take long. Photo by Kristin Tibbetts.

Kristen Tibbetts, co-editor in chief

Active shooter threats across the nation have prompted students and faculty alike to rise up, call for gun reform and express their democratic rights by protesting at the Capitol. In April of 2017, more than a hundred McCallum students did the same. So this year, to protect students from campus threats, McCallum decides to … lock the front door? It may not be the change we were hoping for, but at least it’s something, right?

Two years ago, McCallum initiated the policy of locking almost every door on campus after 9 a.m., with a few exceptions for the front door and main side doors. The policy faced backlash from annoyed students, myself included, but I eventually got used to it. This year, every door on campus is locked all of the time, the only exception being the front entrance. And, once the first bell rings, that door is locked as well.
When I heard the news on the first day of school, I believed this would be incredibly annoying and a huge waste of effort. I was worried that all of the shortcuts I’ve spent three years perfecting would become useless and, with two of my classes in portables, I feared it would be difficult to re-enter the building. Combined with the new tardy policy, the locked doors seemed like a sure-fire way to land more students in detention and ISS. I have to admit that some of my concerns were valid, but I overestimated the effect it would have on the student body.

This policy isn’t perfect, but it protects us without invading our privacy.

Like many students, I don’t believe this is the best way to prevent threats and protect our campus. I would prefer it if Texas passed stricter gun regulations, but the school district doesn’t have that power. More effective methods of campus protection, such as installing metal detectors by the front doors, are expensive and with AISD’s current budget problem, are not feasible. The locked door policy, just like the clear bag policy implemented at sporting events last year, is not perfect, but it creates a safer school environment and proves that AISD cares about our safety.

As the school year progressed, I was surprised by how easy it was to adapt to the locked doors. Classes in portables have scanners built into their hall passes to make re-entry less difficult. To reduce the likelihood of the passes being stolen, teachers are asked to enforce strict sign-in/out procedures, which has been working well in all of my classes so far. As for the trouble with crowded hallways, shortcut-taking students usually don’t have to wait for more than a few seconds before someone opens the door for them.

Though only mildly annoying for students, this policy makes the duties of the administrators more difficult. Hall monitors now have to stop any student without a hall pass and the front office is constantly bombarded with buzzed-in requests to enter the building. I’m grateful that McCallum and AISD care enough about our safety to implement a policy that is a pain to enforce and likely to receive a lot of backlash. I’m glad that every visitor has to ask the front office before entering the building, and I feel safer knowing that it’s much more difficult for outsiders to come on campus.

This policy isn’t perfect, but it protects us without invading our privacy. After the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, the school banned standard backpacks, providing students with clear ones instead, receiving backlash from the student body. Soon after, a handful of schools across the nation did the same.

I am immensely disappointed and angry about the current firearm regulations in America. I am disgusted that the threat of an active shooter is something that has become “normal” in my lifetime. Therefore, I am grateful that AISD understands my fear and is willing to do what is in their power to prevent another tragedy. In comparison, having to give up my shortcuts doesn’t seem like a very big deal.

Kristin Tibbetts
A CALL FOR HELP: The call button and identification scanner next to the main entrace solve one of the main problems with the locked door policy: students and visitors alike being unable to enter the building during the school day. The hall passes for portable classes have scanners built in so that students can still enter the builing to use the restroom or get water. And, as the sign on the door states, visitors are required to use the call button and must enter through the main office first. Photo by Kristin Tibbetts.