UTAH (ABC4) – Many Utah elementary schools are old enough that key card access, security cameras or automatic locking doors were not built-in. The cost to implement these security designs and measures could prove costly and timely.
Newer schools built in the last ten years usually have double door access where any visitor must ring a doorbell to alert the front office and receive permission to enter during school hours.
The Utah State Board of Education School Safety Center (SSC) was only recently established in 2019. The SSC works to strengthen school safety by providing technical assistance, resources, training, and materials.
After 17 people were killed in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, Republican lawmaker Ray Ward called for an investment of $100 million to make Utah schools safer. The bill passed with only $1 million being promised.
There is no state law on how many access points a school should have. Utah schools are not mandated to have any safety measures such as cameras, doorbells at entrances, or ensuring all doors are locked.
Every school in Utah must, however, have a school emergency and safety plan in place for natural disasters, accidents, active shooter situations, or bomb threats.
Schools are also required to have practice drills for fire, earthquakes, and lockdowns.
Improvement is underway, however. Five Utah schools have received grants through the Student Safety Center to help fund safety improvements. The following schools were awarded grants up to $31,000:
- Frontier Middle School in Alpine School District
- Mountain Crest High in Cache County School District
- Union Middle in Canyons School District
- Northridge High in Davis School District
- North Sanpete High in North Sanpete School District
Additionally, Provo, Nebo, and Ogden school districts were awarded grant funding for safety from the Department of Justice’s Office in 2020.
While it may be years until parents and students see every Utah school adequately redesigned for total safety, for now, students can use the SafeUT app to report any threats at their schools.