New safety measures keep Wolverines safe in case of emergencies


Sarah Elbeshbishi

A new magnet for the door frames to allow all doors to be locked quickly in case of emergencies.

Kevin Finn and Hezekiah Likekele

In light of recent school safety threats ranging from 1,000 miles away in Florida to local threats at other Montgomery County Public School, students and parents are left wondering, “What policies are in place at my school to prevent and/or diffuse school safety threats?”

A major concern with school safety threats is keeping that threat outside of the school. This past year, Watkins Mill installed a brand new vestibule at the school’s main entrance. Apart from the beginning and the end of the day, this forces anyone coming into the school to go through the office after pressing a call button to be buzzed into the vestibule.

Watkins Mill’s School Resource Officers are another way that the school prevents emergencies. At least one of the Mill’s two SROs, officers Andrew Byrd and Ashley Breslin, are in the school at all times.

“One of the cool things is that we work real closely with our SROs,” principal Carol Goddard said.  “And if there’s imminent danger, we’re in a lockdown or a shelter-in-place long before that imminent danger gets here.” 

In terms of individual classroom safety, all classrooms were equipped with magnetic strips this year, which allow doors to open while locked in normal circumstances, but make it faster to lock doors in case of an emergency situations.  Teachers can simply remove the magnetic strip and pull the door closed, removing the need to exit the classroom and fumble with keys in a situation where time could be critical. 

“People often say ‘seconds become minutes’ when it comes to school shootings. I think that the magnets are something that if everyone uses them, they can save precious time in the case of an emergency,” English teacher Christopher Smith said.

Goddard also emphasizes the importance of how students and teachers alike need to do their part in keeping the school as safe as possible. “I know that kids, when we do these drills, they talk. You don’t want this perpetrator to know that anyone’s in that room. You should be very, very quiet,” Goddard added.

Sarah Elbeshbishi
Security guard Brian Johnson at one of the school’s many hallway security stations.

School safety goes beyond just the basic drills, but also listening to directions can go a long way. Being more conscious about issues like “kids opening the doors for someone they don’t know or adults that they think should automatically… [be] let in,” Goddard added. 

At the end of the day, Goddard makes herself available to meet with anyone who has any concerns. “I say let’s talk about it,” Goddard added. “What are some of the things that worry you? What are some of the things we need to talk about? How can we improve what we’re doing now?”  

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