Guest editorial: What will Park City’s schools do to keep students safe in 2020?
Park City High School seniors
As the year comes to a close, we recount the many lives that have been lost to gun violence in schools. We recount the horror of news headlines detailing tragedies outside our area. We also consider the safety scares our own community has encountered this year, the worries that we have all had to face, and we hope next year will be better.
In nine states across the U.S., including Utah, people with permits can bring guns into schools. Utah has recently taken steps to ensure that the faculty who wish to be equipped with guns are prepared to intervene and can successfully neutralize a target. A six-week program held by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office for firearm training has become quite popular as teachers of various levels, janitors, librarians and more flock to gain knowledge about carrying weapons around on campus. The courses cover a multitude of topics including first aid for a child gunshot wound, self-defense, de-escalation and target shooting.
Although many of the subjects that the participants are learning, like first aid and de-escalation, would prove helpful in the classroom, the policy of arming teachers is worrisome to many.
As students, we value connection with the school’s faculty, a connection that allows us to feel safe and represented in times of peace and emergency. Not only do these connections benefit students inside the classroom, they do so outside of it as well, as many students are able to feel accounted for after school and on the weekends, knowing that they will return on Monday morning to an environment in which adults provide love and care. Educators, throughout their training, have been taught to nurture. Why introduce guns into an environment that is meant to be calm and accommodative to students who are present to learn from their teachers, not to witness them single-handedly take down an assailant?
Arming teachers will not make school safer; the environment could actually become more dangerous. The aforementioned gun training provided to school faculty is being offered after the finding of an unsecured gun during a school lockdown in the Salt Lake City School District. Who’s to say that school faculty, usually not members of professional law enforcement, will have the ability to ensure that their weapons are concealed and secured at all hours of the school day? We cannot simply rely on the presumption that all carriers will be responsible, even if they have partaken in a rudimentary training course.
As seniors at Park City High School, we have been witness to many changes in policy made for the purpose of ensuring student safety. Our community has seen tragedies unfold, frightening lockdowns, national bomb threats targeting the area and more. Although the Park City School District is one of the safest in the state, even the country, we feel that there is always more that can be done to ensure students feel comfortable in their learning environment. Rather than equipping a space that is supposed to be safe with firearms, the administration can implement positive programs to ensure the safety of students.
As we reflect on the tragedies and lives lost due to gun violence in 2019, we extend the question: What will the Park City School District do to keep students safe in 2020?
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F. Joseph Feely III writes in a guest editorial that he is concerned about the “likely impact of the extreme policy positions” Democrats will pursue if they win control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.