BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Standard Elementary School in Oildale was designed with gunfire in mind.
“How can we make our schools safer,” Standard School District superintendent Paul Meyers said, “knowing that in the 21st century, school shootings have become a reality?”
The district designed Standard Elementary in 2018, the same year a gunman murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Fla. From the very beginning, designers keyed in on the features most likely to hinder such an attacker.
“Cameras, six-foot fences, buzzed-in gates, doors that are easy to lock from the inside,” Meyers said.
Standard Elementary also boasts bulletproof windows and a layout that ensures all students are encircled by buildings and fences at all times. It’s just one example of the line designers have to walk, shielding students from bullets without making schools feel like fortresses.
“There is a tendency for schools to become more institutionalized when you want them to be welcoming,” Greenfield Union School District assistant superintendent Luke Hogue said. “(You want them to) feel like it’s an exciting place for kids to be.”
Educators wonder how we got here.
“I don’t think anyone went into education 10, 15 years ago — and I don’t think anyone goes into education today — with the mindset that they’re going to have to be a barrier to violence to kids,” Hogue said.
Despite the laundry list of safety measures, educators wonder, too, if they will be enough.
Hogue served as a local principal during the Sandy Hook massacre, and now is forced to take stock again.
“I walked that campus. I walked that campus that I was in charge of intently,” Hogue said. “I looked at everything I could do on that campus. I looked at exits, I looked at entries, I looked at our procedures, I looked at our trainings and then I reflected on what occurred at Sandy Hook.
And I thought all those things that I had reviewed, would not have stopped what occurred at Sandy Hook. I think if I was to do the same thing today, for what occurred in Texas, the outcome would be the same. That sense of helplessness doesn’t sit well with anyone, including myself.”