As gun violence threats continue plaguing U.S. citizens across the country, Hillsborough County public schools have begun preparations providing further protection for its students throughout the district.
May 1, 2019, marks the day Florida lawmakers passed a bill regarding the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, dubbed after a Stoneman Douglas teacher who, upon seeing students in danger, shielded them from harm during an active shooting. The program, often referred to simply as the “guardian program,” would allow districts to opt-in to an initiative aimed at arming teachers to protect students in the case of an emergency.
“However, I want to be very clear, teachers in Hillsborough County Public schools will NOT carry weapons,” said Superintendent Jeff Eakins in a statement released May 2, 2019.
Such sentiments coincide with the county’s current intentions on meeting the requirement placed by the program through trained officials from the sheriff’s office, rather than teachers and other staff members in the district.
Despite the added security, Hillsborough County has moved to install an alert system to provide further protection for its student as well. The Centegix Crisis Alert system, currently being installed across over 250 locations in the district, provides an added safety measure beyond resource officers or deputies, all of which have been assigned to middle and high schools in the district.
Set to be completed in October, the system itself would allow faculty to alert the entire building of any threat immediately and to begin a lockdown. A stark contrast to the current system in place, which requires that administration be informed before a school-wide notification is sent.
“I’m excited for it to be added to the school,” said Principal Kelly King.
Further elaborating that the system would function by supplying teachers with ID badges that will always be on them and could, if necessary, be used to initiate an alert to the entire school.
Still, as gun violence threats haunt American high schools, Steinbrenner continues testing its students’ readiness through lockdown drills. These drills, initiated through an announcement on the PA system, require students and teachers to follow an emergency lockdown procedure in which windows are obstructed and students move out of a potential threats possible line of sight.
“When I look back at the history of lockdown drills, I can certainly say that they are taken much more seriously now by students and staff because I think people do realize we are preparing for a very serious potential threat,” said King.
King’s comments coincide with beliefs held by students now as heightened awareness of potential threats remains an ever-present thought among American high school students around the country. Officials can only hope they have provided the best safety for students as they continue to protect them to the best of their ability.
Tatiana Gonzalez // Staff Writer