School establishes ‘gates policy’ for student safety

Students require passes in the morning to attend tutoring and club meetings


Kaya Miller

At 8:32 a.m., students wait for the gates to go up at 8:35 a.m. to allow them to get to first period. The gates stay down before 8:35 a.m. to prevent students from roaming the school unless they have tutoring or club meetings. The gate policy is new this year.

Kaya Miller, Executive News Editor

With a new principal comes changes in policies: one of which is a new gate and hall monitoring policy. The policy accompanies other policies newly implemented this year, such as the advisory period, established to carry out the goal of safety for students. The gates and hall monitoring policies went into effect for the new school year.

Four gates separate the right and left wings of the school – two upstairs and two downstairs. The gates stay down until 8:15 a.m. every morning. Between 8:15 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. every morning, a faculty member monitors each gate, and checks passes of students who have tutoring or club meetings. Students must present an email or a physical pass from their teacher to the gate monitors to gain permission to go to their classroom.

“(Keeping the gates down) is to keep our students in a central location, so we know where they are and keep them safe,” principal Nicholas Jones said. “It also allows our teachers to show up for work early and be able to work in their classrooms on adult and teacher matters – before kids come to see them at 8:15.”

Students who show up to school earlier than 8:35 a.m. must wait in the cafeteria.

We can make sure that we know where our kids are and we keep them safe at all times.

— Nicholas Jones, principal

“The new gate policy really hasn’t affected me much,” senior Kaley Carr said. “I usually need to schedule tutorial times with my teachers anyways, so getting an email pass, personally, isn’t hard. I definitely see the purpose of the policy and that the staff is simply trying to assure safety and professionalism within the school.”

To ensure students obtain a pass to get through the gate, prior scheduling and communication must be done with the teacher.

“(The new gate policy) has led to more security for the building in the mornings,” math teacher Robert Sparks said. “It has provided additional structure and order to my tutorials. I know exactly which students I’ll be tutoring and when I’ll be tutoring them. Also, by only having students receiving tutoring in the instructional areas, our tutoring sessions are not interrupted by discipline or security issues.”

Additionally to adding structure to tutorials, teachers gain more time to prepare for their classes uninterrupted.

“As a teacher, I appreciate the gate policy,” culinary teacher Tiffany Caro-Sanchez said. “Last school year it was rare to arrive at my classroom and not have a student waiting outside my door, not for tutorials but because they arrived that early. I like arriving at my classroom, having quiet time, and preparing for the day. The new gate policy has improved my morning routine.”

If students enter the school through the gym side or auditorium side doors, they are directed by hall and gate duty teachers to go to the cafeteria.

“The gate policy is intended to keep our school and students safer,” science teacher Melany Zellers said. “It is definitely more work on both the students and teachers, but safety is and has to be our first priority. If students need to come extra early for a make-up test, I have to let them in since no one is at the gates yet.”

Teachers are assigned shifts to monitor gates and check students’ passes starting at 8:15 a.m. Before then, the teacher tutoring or sponsoring the activity must meet the student at the gate to let them through.

“The Talonettes practice every morning either at 7:15 or 8:15,” Carr said. “Each day we travel from the dance room to the gyms and have a large team of 63 – usually not everyone heads over all at once. This is where the new gate policy affects us.”

The gate policy has caused mixed reactions between students and faculty as some adjusting of daily activity has to be done.

“The two things that tend to happen is either we get stuck at each gate until our directors can come over, or a few girls head over a little later than everyone else and get stuck because no teacher will let them through to practice,” Carr said. “As a team, we all express that we understand the importance of this policy, and are adapting to it the best we can – despite the roadblocks in the morning.”

Students who have bags to drop off for extracurricular activities – like band instruments are let through the gates at 8:30 a.m.

Teachers can either get gate duty or hallway duty. The gate policy and duty only apply to the morning as a fewer number of students are at school after hours. Hallway duty is done mornings and afternoons.

“So we have 297 staff members,” Jones said. “We split them up into 10 different duty times, which are either in the morning or in the afternoon. So it’s five days, which are two spots per day. So it gives us 10 different times – we can split them up, and put them in locations all around the school to make sure we just have an adult present for our students.”

A schedule, organized by an assistant principal, gets released with the name of the teacher, the time, the type of duty – gate or hallway, the day, and the location.

Our duty in the hall is important because our presence keeps the school safer, and it ensures we are interacting with all students! All in all, yes it is more effort, but it is worth the effort.

— Melany Zellers, science teacher

“Duty is never a teacher’s favorite part of the day,” Sparks said. “However, we can’t provide the proper service to our families without ensuring a safe and secure campus. Our duty assignments are our way of contributing to that environment.”

Jones and other administration members stay visible in the cafeteria in the mornings and afternoons.

“I don’t mind having hallway duty,” Caro-Sanchez said. “It’s only one day a week for 20 minutes. I think this is a fair task for teachers.”

Through the duties done by faculty, safety is intended to be carried out for the students.

“We have great teachers so they show up,” Jones said. “They’re only up one time per week. And their job is just to interact with kids and keep them safe.”