False sense of security

A look into how our district keeps us safe

You turn on the news and it’s another dreadful report. You can feel the pain of families and friends through your TV screen. Another school has been the target of a shooting incident. 

However, we are distanced from it within the Boulder Bubble. There’s a heavy blanket of, “Oh, this could never happen to us.” Until it does. 

In a time where school shootings feel overwhelmingly common, safety in schools has become a vital focus for the nation. As a school district, Boulder Valley has taken steps to increase security for the wellbeing of all students. 

However, this raises an important question: exactly how safe is Monarch High School? 

“I don’t think that there’s one [thing that’s going to make us all safe,” School Resource Officer Christopher Humphreys said. “I think it’s a combination of everything. It’s a combination of having cameras, of having fobs, of having a really good security personnel working here.”

However, when one or more of these pieces malfunction, the safety of the school can be compromised.  

In the past few years, Monarch, and many other BVSD high schools have been adjusting to the new fob system. 

“The idea would be that everybody would have their fobs on them somewhere that they could pull out quickly in times of an emergency, and easily,” Principal Neil Anderson said. 

The fobs are supposed to keep everyone without an activated Monarch ID out of the school. “If you’re a visitor, you can’t just walk into the school,” Brendan Sullivan, BVSD Director of Safety, Security, and Emergency Procedures, said. “[However],we’re realizing students have been leaving doors propped open.” 

While the fob system was installed with good intentions, students, however, have noticed that they don’t always have the desired effect. 

“Anyone can get in without a fob if they go through the front desk. If you don’t have your fob you can easily get in to the school,” Paloma Rutherford ‘21 said. 

Not only can students enter the school through the front door, but it is incredibly easy for students to follow others in through the door, or for the doors to be propped open. The heart of the problem is that the fob system is not as efficient as it should be. 

While it can prevent anyone from simply walking into the school, the system is ultimately faulty. 

“The fobs are flawed because half the time they don’t even work,” Angelique Cervantes ‘21 said. “Then they make you go down to the office but most of the time they’re just like ‘you just have to wait it out and see what happens’ and it’s just a waiting game. Because all last year my fob didn’t work and it took forever.” 

There have been a few complications from the company that supplies the fobs. “We did get fobs that were apparently issued that had not yet been [activated],” Assistant principal Mark Sibley said. “It was a major inconvenience for everyone.” 

The second hole in the system is the cameras.

Cameras were implemented in the school a few years ago, but it wasn’t until last year that the number of cameras throughout the school were increased. Currently, school security is only monitoring the security camera footage throughout the night. 

However, BVSD says the safety of the school requires every person inside and outside to have that same awareness and share it with others. Even with all the security equipment and personnel, some things are out of their hands and the students need to take action to make and keep our atmosphere safe.

The largest hole in the security system is the doors.

A new door security system was added in a couple of years ago to increase Monarch’s safety. The fobs are also a part of this, and they allow students to get into the school while eliminating the possibility of any threats to the school.

However, students walk in every day without a fob, melding into the mob of people. Staff and students at Monarch have a culture of holding doors open for each other to be polite. “I hold open doors for students when I see a student coming in from the parking lot and they clearly have a backpack on, and they’re fumbling for their key card,” Officer Humphreys said. 

The majority of school shooters are 17 years old, according to the BBC. This means that instead of looking for an unfamiliar person of older age, a threat to our school is most likely to be a student who either is or was once a student at Monarch. Someone who could easily blend into the crowd.

However, this puts students in a difficult situation: do you close the door in someone’s face or let in a student that’s probably harmless, yet unfamiliar? 

“If I recognize them as a student I’ve seen in the halls. I think it’s the having the awareness and understanding that, yeah, I know who you are and I recognize you as a student, versus, this person just doesn’t belong here,” Officer Humphreys said. It doesn’t matter how many security features were added to the school, if students don’t do their part then it won’t make a difference.

Every morning, the doors in the bus loop entrance are either unlocked in anticipation of entering high schoolers, or opened by another student inside to help out. However, this can be extremely dangerous. Any person, regardless of if they have a fob in hand can simply walk in alongside others, with absolutely no one seeing anything wrong. 

School security has definitely come a long way since members of the staff were high schoolers themselves. However, there are still red flags that compromise our safety as current high schoolers. 

Ranging from our cameras to our fobs, there are still many ways to improve our security at Monarch, starting with every individual student playing their part in making our school a safe atmosphere.