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Southern Lehigh Takes New Safety and Security Precautions

Saskia Van't Hof, Staff Reporter

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The Southern Lehigh School District is currently working to update and increase security in various schools. Particular attention is being given to the entrances of Liberty Bell Elementary School, Southern Lehigh Middle School, and Southern Lehigh High School.

Currently, the district is reinforcing its current practices as well as reviewing the procedures for visitor entry. Once the new plans are finalized, they will be communicated to all families as well as community members who use the school’s facilities.

“Security should be a constant and ongoing thing, not just something that’s once and done. Are the changes significant? Yes. They’re going to impact people in a way that they’re not used to,” Southern Lehigh High School Resource Officer Brian McLaughlin said, “but change is not always bad. And because of the times–with everything that’s been going on–we’ve actually been very fortunate that [Southern Lehigh] has allowed accesses for so long. From my standpoint, a lot of these changes are just common sense procedures.”

An external architectural firm began evaluating all structural aspects of the district in the beginning of April. Recommendations by the firm will be reviewed and implemented in the coming months.

“My response is still going to be the same, no matter what happens,” Officer McLaughlin said. “The new restrictions actually alleviate some of the concerns I’ve had before because I don’t have to be as concerned about outside visitors walking around in the halls. It allows me to focus on other areas of my job instead.”

Teachers will also receive further ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training. Plans for the next phase of the program includes parent and student involvement.

“I think our school is pretty safe, especially compared to other schools,” sophomore Marissa McCormick said. “I mean, there’s always something the school can do to make it safer, but I think Southern Lehigh is a really safe environment.”

The update comes following to the February 14 evacuation of the high school. Although the situation was secure and revealed no threat, it brought attention to possible security issues in the district.

“Are these changes a direct response to [the evacuation]? No, they’re not, but the evacuation definitely made people aware,” Officer McLaughlin said. “Whether it’s the events at our school, what happened in Florida, or some of the other recent events in the country, it makes people question if we’re doing enough. At the end of the day, our job is to make sure that the students are safe.”

Communication between the district and the principals of each school will be vital in finding both short-term and long-term solutions. The district also intends on meeting with student leaders in order to gain their input on safety and security in the district.

“I feel safe at school. But I think there’s a lot that could be done to make it safer,” freshman class president Cameron Hines said. “Increasing security and making restrictions on who can come in and out of the school is a good step.”

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Southern Lehigh Takes New Safety and Security Precautions