LOHS updates security measures on campus

Natalie Foss and Nidhi Nair

Following the secure and hold order placed on Dec. 16, 2021, many expressed concerns regarding the safety protocols at LOHS. With safety being one of the most important priorities at LOHS, new security measures such as cameras and updated PA systems were recently implemented throughout campus to ensure the safety of staff members and students on a daily basis. In response to many safety concerns and inquiries, the doors to the entrance of each hallway wing are also now unlocked during lunch.

Over winter break, the janitorial staff worked several hours a day to install new security systems throughout the school. Assistant Principal Ryan Rosenau said, “65 cameras were installed over winter break. Our public address system was also upgraded and tested.” The hope for these new installations is to further ensure that everyone on campus is safe throughout the school day. “Both of these projects will add greatly to our school’s safety measures by improving our investigative tools. These are safety upgrades enacted by voters as a result of our most recent school bond,” Rosenau said. 

The importance of these new safety measures was truly put to the test and displayed on January 24, 2022, when yet another hold procedure was called to LOHS. Students were once again locked into their B6 classes in response to a threat, but unlike the incident in December, students were released after approximately one hour rather than five. The security protocols were likely a major factor of why the hold procedure did not last nearly as long as the one prior to winter break.

In LOSD’s The Current email sent out to all of the school district, Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Schiele wrote, “As part of the investigation, police interviewed students who were identified in building security camera footage. Security protocols and partnership between the district and law enforcement enabled police to expedite the investigation smoothly and get the school back on track as quickly as possible.”

Mr. Rosenau added, “The new security cameras provided a starting point for the investigation and allowed us to create a list of students that we needed to talk with. We are scheduled to install many more cameras as they become available. I am looking forward to when we will be able to conduct lockdown drills after COVID.  That practice is important in making sure everyone is familiar and efficient with the process.”

Furthermore, the idea of installing upgraded security systems in all LOSD schools was first raised “two bond measures ago, which was about four years ago,” said School Resource Officer Bryan Sheldon. “It will provide more modern and adequate safety and security measures to ensure the safest possible learning environment for all students, staff, and visitors.”

Following the installation of new security measures, every A2 class was required to teach students about the new protocols and how to stay safe in an emergency situation. This presentation included safety plans and instructions for how to respond in case of a threat on or near campus. 

Overall, both secure and hold incidents allowed students and staff to fully assess whether there are any improvements that can be made to further promote safety. Sophomore Maya Gilchrist said, “At first, [the secure and hold] was a little stressful, and I didn’t really know what was happening. But after a few hours, I just wanted to go home. [I think the school can improve] communication just because a lot of people were freaking out. Even if they weren’t scared of the situation, no one knew what was going on for a while.”

Choir teacher Tara Bamford shared her experiences regarding the first incident on Dec. 16. “We were in the auditorium practicing for our concert that night when the “secure and hold” first started. The administration knew that my classroom still did not have a functioning PA system, so they had to physically come and let me know about the situation. We ended up moving to the band room for the remainder of the day (where there was a functioning PA system) so that we could hear updates.”

Having a fully functioning PA system is extremely important in relaying information, especially in emergency situations. PA systems were implemented and tested over winter break to ensure that every single classroom has a viable way to be notified of any announcements as well as emergency alerts. 

Following the more recent incident, Bamford commended the security advancements that were made. She said, “We did get announcements this time and my PA system was working correctly. Although there are still a few improvements that could be made, like replacing doors that cannot lock from the inside, this is a step in the right direction.”