South Staff Solidify School Safety


Sophia Wright

For the last phase of the construction plans, the central doors (pictured above) will be renovated so all visitors will have to go through a double door security system.

Sophia Wright

Schools are safe places for students to learn, but with the multiple threats Westerville South received during February it leaves students questioning how safe the school really is. So, what measures does South’s Administration take to ensure its students’ safety? 

In cases where the school receives multiple overnight threats, like the ones the school received in February, the school typically works with the Westerville police to handle the situation. 

“In those situations, we will work with Westerville police. I’m typically on the phone with Officer Jackson and then he’s on the phone with his supervisor…” said Michael Hinze, South’s principal. 

Other circumstances require different solutions. According to Hinze, South has a system of metrics that is used to decide if a lockdown is necessary or not. The city of Westerville, the Westerville Police Department, and the Department of Homeland Security have all worked together to develop South’s safety plan.

Because the threats the school receives are sporadic, there isn’t just one plan designed for every situation. “We don’t use a one size fits all response. Every single school threat goes through a process,” Hinze said. 

South’s biggest security effort towards keeping students safe is training the school staff. According to Hinze, because of the number of doors South has, it is difficult to implement safety features that can keep the whole school safe.

“We have over two dozen doors to the school… metal detectors won’t help us… Research suggests you get the most safety from staff training programs…”

Focusing South’s security efforts on training staff also allows for teachers to build better relationships with students. According to Hinze, students are more likely to learn more and report more if they have a comfortable classroom environment. 

South has been working on a physical safety enhancement project for the last phase of the renovation plan. “We’re getting a central entrance with what we call a secure entry way this summer,” said Hinze. 

According to Hinze, this upgrade makes it so that everybody who comes through the central doors will have to be buzzed in and walk past two doors.  

“… We again have 20 something doors so it’s a very difficult building to really say it’s fully secured, but we do know that most of our random adults off the street come through that door so we would like to have that double protection.”