With the tragedy in Sandy Hook, Conn. still fresh and the debate on gun control being waged, Holli Jo Warner said the State College Area School District has made an effort to make sure that the district is as safe as possible.
Warner is president of the State College Area Education Associations and a sixth-grade teacher at Park Forest Middle School. She said that school safety has been highlighted in the district since the Sandy Hook shooting with teacher and students practicing safety drills along with the typical emergency drills.
Warner said that those drills include going to secure places in the buildings, having easily locked doors in classrooms and directing students to the safest place in the classroom.
“The students are very serious about it and understand. But they say to me, ‘it’s just too bad that we have to do this,’ ” Warner said.
Warner said that the district does have armed school safety officers in different schools at different times. She said she feels that is an important safety measure, but wonders if arming teachers would make things safer.
“I don’t know if that is the answer, because I don’t know that it would be a determent,” Warner said.
But some feel that arming teachers would make things safer, and State Rep. Greg Lucas, R-Erie, is working on a bill that would allow teachers and administrators to carry weapons into the classroom if they are licensed to carry a firearm and have passed state issued certification.
State Rep. Daryl Metcafe, R-Butler, is also introducing legislation that would bring more guns into school. He sent a memo to the state House of Representatives last month stating that he plans to introduce a bill that would allow people other than school officers to carry weapons.
But not everyone feels that more guns in schools is the only answer to safety.
Shira Goodman of CeasefirePA, a statewide coalition group against gun violence, said while she understands a teacher’s desire to protect themselves and their students, she would feel a little uneasy as a parent with more guns in schools.
Goodman said she hopes the state looks at the broader problems of gun control when thinking about the tragedy of Sandy Hook, and hopes that open discussions on guns and safety can continue.