Cameras watch them all day. Every visitor — parents, volunteers, the guy who fills the Coke machine — must surrender his or her driver's license to a secretary who checks it against a national database of sex offenders. This fall, nearly one in three schools literally trap visitors inside a "secure vestibule," a bulletproof glass room, until they're checked out. Welcome to the brave new world of school security. In an era when deadly school shootings seem to happen like clockwork, schools are hardening up, trying unconventional means to deter violence and keep track of students and adults.
This is not my grandson’s school but a real one I picked off the Internet. Scary isn’t it? This morning around 10 am I went to his school to bring him something he forgot at our house this morning. As I walked up and tugged at the doors, I was surprised but they were locked. Instead of walking in I read a rather large sign that directed me to “push the doorbell” on an intercom type of a gizmo with a button. “Could this be the “doorbell” they were referring to on the sign. Didn’t look like a doorbell but more like a gizmo of some type. I checked all over the door just to make sure there wasn’t a real doorbell somewhere else on the door and this sign wasn’t turned around or something. Kids have a habit of doing those things, you know. I was nervous being here in the first place and I didn’t want to make some type of an error with security, of all things, as I’m sure I would feel the full wrath of the Principal. [I’m still scared of Principals.] After I reread the sign directing me to do so and carefully following the arrow that was on the sign, which told me where the “doorbell” was, I pushed the button, with much trepidation. A very nice voice, female one it was, came through the gizmo and inquired of my mission. I convinced her that my mission was righteous and she said ”please come in to the office and we will help you”. I waited for the telltale clunk as the magnet pulled up the latch to unlock the door. The noise didn’t come but I still tried the door and found it now mysteriously open. “Must work off the Internet or something” I reasoned as I walked through. I noticed a small camera above my head silently filming me. “Filming” is probably the wrong word to use. I assumed that the camera was hooked up to a computer that was using some type of facial recognition software to determine whether I was a terrorist, a casino cheat, or a child molester. It turns out that they don’t have that type of software and that there wasn’t 10 security guards, being led by the Principal, that were waiting to swoop down on me if I messed up. Things have really changed in our schools and I’m sure that there will be many more changes coming in the near future. I think that the real threat is the child molester and not the terrorist.