New year, new rules

Additional security measures are added to campus

October 7, 2022

Change is coming to the campus. It is inevitable due to the fact that the safety of students is at risk. It will be something that will affect all students and take time to get used to. But it will be something that could ease the minds of students, teachers and parents. 

With school shootings on the forefront, TISD started implementing additional security measures around campuses. Since the first day of school, all classroom doors remain locked, and a fence will be built around the perimeter of the campus. 

“We’ve already done some security measures here just because Texas High is such an open campus, so we have worked with Ken Reese, our director of operations, to lock down a lot more doors than typically would stay open, and then the fencing will obviously help with that,” Principal Patti O’Bannon said. “There are other things that the district is currently looking at such as RFID badges. Our teachers will be receiving those, probably in January. Teachers will have these cards to access [buildings]. Eventually, it could be that students have the card access to get them into certain buildings.”

With the Uvalde scare, staff are not willing to take risks. Badges are what differentiate the adults on campus. 

“[There has been] a lot of talk of the changes that have been implemented and that are coming. They’re more adamant,” principles of law teacher Jeff Crowson said. “Administrators and our teachers are more observant. If you don’t have a badge on, you’re definitely going to get asked about it.”

A fence was always going to be in our future, but with the concerns of safety, the idea was brought into motion faster.

“The shooting in Uvalde brought security to the forefront, but [putting a fence up has] always been in our minds at Texas High [before the shooting] because it’s gonna help us contain a very large school,” Texarkana ISD police chief Brad Irvin said. 

Not all the security measures are in place yet, but the school has tried to imagine what it would be like. They improvised a way to mimic a fence along the campus, and guards control who enters the premises. 

“We tried to replicate what it might be like already as schools began. We have already closed off areas with cones,  such as the PAC,” O’Bannon said. “We’ve already got measures in place now with our guard shacks, where they have a device that is scanning ID badges so that they know when parents or anybody else that has business here comes on campus and when they leave.”

Though not all the plans have been discussed in depth, the district has an idea and discussions will be held soon. 

As of now, there is still a sense of uncertainty about how everything will work. 

“It’s going to be a struggle at first. [We have to figure out] when to open gates and when to keep them closed because buses are coming in and out from different schools or bringing kids in and bringing kids out,” Irvin said. “We’re just gonna  have to work through that strategic stuff and make sure that [someone’s at] the fence who will open the gates and who’s going to close them right when the bus leaves during the day.” 

Though we won’t see any of the construction begin this semester, we can see it in the near future. The district is currently coming up with the money to pay for it. 

“Our director of operations is taking bids for the fencing, and then it has to go through a process of approval by the board,” O’Bannon said. “I don’t anticipate any fencing to begin until probably January.” 

The Uvalde shooting was a wake-up call for the state and people all over the country. New mandated rules were put in place by the state.

“We already had some security measures in place, but I will say because of the Uvalde incident, the state did put into place some additional guidelines,” O’Bannon said. “A lot of the upgrades that we’re doing are requirements of the state as far as when we do certain safety drills and how many safety drills we do.” 

Of course, there’s a downside to everything, but when safety is at risk, a small inconvenience is nothing to take into consideration.

“The only downside that I could think of is it’s not always convenient to have to walk around or go around. But when you’re talking about student safety and staff safety, I just don’t think that inconvenience should be something that is considered,” O’Bannon said. “Our number one priority is to make sure that our students and staff are safe. So if we have to walk a little further, then that just means that we have to walk a little further, and sometimes that may seem inconvenient, but we have to remember what our end in mind goal is, which is safety.”

Texas High isn’t the only campus getting new safety measures. All schools in the district are getting upgrades too. 

“[All schools are] going to be getting [additional security],” Irvin said. “Texas Middle School will be getting a fence as well, and elementaries are going to get access control. It’s a lot easier to contain a one building [campus] than [something] like Texas High, so that’s why the fences are going around both [THS and TMS].”

The fence is the best option we have for security. It would control who enters the campus, and intruders would have a hard time trying to break in because the fence is going to be iron rods, similar to the Grim Stadium. 

“Somebody crawling over a fence is very noticeable,” Crowson said. “I definitely believe the fence is just another added measure of security that will keep us safe.”

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