By Jake Tewel
September is here; pumpkin spice coffee is available again, kids are back in school, and tragically the anniversary of September 11, 2001 is around the corner. Which with recent events has also brought about time for schools to start exploring new options to increase security. I was recently pleased to hear that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new state law that requires all New York schools to observe a moment of silence on 9/11 to honor those who tragically perished on that day. Cuomo said “9/11 was one of the single darkest periods in….history, and we owe it to those we lost…to keep their memory alive.” As such, an annual day of remembrance was established in the state.
Children graduating high school were just infants in 2001 and are probably the last graduating class that was even born on that horrific day. I was thinking how every generation of students has had their own unique challenges. Can you imagine how many parents and students went to the first day of school this year thinking about school shootings?
For generations, parents and kids looked forward to school as a place of learning and growth, and not a place of danger. Times have changed and that feeling of security behind the closed doors of the school building is long gone. Safety concerns in recent years have done away with this, and security has been an issue that is on the forefront of many changes being made to the way schools approach their learning environments.
One of those changes has recently been brought up in the form of doors. Omer Barnes, CEO of REMO Doors and a father of 2 students in Harrington park, New Jersey, met with his school’s superintendent to discuss this post-Columbine reality. What Omer saw was “active shooter drills”, with students hiding under their desks, with the lights off in a dark classroom, in complete silence, until the all clear was signaled. This sounds traumatic for young children. And so, after many meetings with school officials a plan was set in motion to install a new “safe door” that is manufactured in Israel by REMO doors. The doors are bulletproof and install onto the existing doorway, with no electronic mechanism only a simple lock that even a 5-year-old can use. It is a sad truth that these concerns have made the time come for schools to have to start exploring new options to increase security. A private girl’s school in Brooklyn was the first to buy and install the doors using a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. The doors that even come equipped with bullet proof windows are about $2,500 and DHS grants are available to help schools with the expense of purchasing and installing them, or you can look on GrantWatch for any that might qualify as well. These doors may be an additional layer of defense against an active school shooter and be far less traumatic than huddling under a desk.
Jake Tewel holds a master’s degree from YU, is a wine seller and caterer and a million-mile traveler for the past 15 years. Jake is a best friend, great neighbor, your go-to travel person, father, grandfather, and loving husband. He is now focusing his efforts on heart-healthy nutrition, exercise, and travel.