Today on Fox’s Philadelphia morning program, Good Day Philadelphia, Chief Inspector for the Philadelphia Public Schools Cynthia Dorsey announced that the school district will begin to train their staff on how to handle an intruder situation similar to what happened at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. She also reminded viewers that the school district has 12 different emergency procedures in place that all school administrators know and are prepared to use if necessary.
Parents can even go into the school and request to look at the safety procedures that are in place. Most schools prefer that you call to make an appointment before coming in. Feel free to ask questions. You can also call the school district and offer suggestions or comments. Their phone number is 215-400-4000. You can also contact Chief Inspector Dorsey directly through the Office of School Safety at 215-400-4710.
So, really, how safe are the schools in the Philadelphia School District?
Well, they might not be so safe on the inside, but that’s usually because of certain students. If you’re an intruder looking to get in to do harm, good luck with that. All of the district’s schools have automatic locks on their doors that require a visitor to identify themselves and to be buzzed in by the office staff.
Not only do they have school police on the premises, but they also have Philadelphia Police Officers who come into the building to check in. In addition, if a school calls their local district, a squad car comes within minutes because the police department puts a call from a school on their high priority list; they will respond immediately.
The doors at each school are made out of heavy metal or iron and some, the ones that are not used as primary exits, are often padlocked. The windows are made of glass which can be broken, but each window also has heavy metal safety gates that are soldered into place. Unless the evil-doer has brought along bolt cutters or a welding tool, they’re not going to get in through the window. If the little malcontent tries to open the window, they’re out of luck as well. School district windows only open about three inches.
It’s important that parents make their children aware of possible danger that surrounds them even when they’re in school. All Philadelphia School District employees are required to wear their picture ID with them at all times and any visitors must have either a badge or a name tag that identifies them as a visitor. If your child sees someone in the school without a badge or picture ID, instruct them to tell their teacher or another school employee immediately.
On a side note, let’s all take a moment to honor the staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School who lost their lives trying to save the students. Educators, for the most part, are very protective of their students. They refer to them as their students or their kids. Next to education, assuring the safety of the students is their top priority and it’s something they take very seriously.
In Philadelphia, the teachers in the district spend six and a half hours with your child. All too often, they wear many hats besides that of a teacher. Say what you will about the teaching profession, but the massacre at Sandy Hook should serve as a reminder about how essential a teacher is to the student.
So tomorrow morning, as you drop your child off at school, take the time to thank the teacher for being there. Perhaps even give that teacher a hug.