By Samantha Castro ’16 and Quetourah Dalencourt ’16
Students and faculty will only be able to exit through the main building front doors and annex doors starting at the end of this year.
Due to the new law, Avonte’s law, every public school must install audible door alarms at every exit door. There will be 21,000 alarms installed around the city according to the article New York City Schools Installing 21,000 Door Alarms by The Associated Press, New York Times. A hundred percent of the alarms are expected to be installed by the end of 2015.
According to Mr. Franzese, the Assistant Principal of Security, in Midwood’s case, the only doors without the alarms will be the main building’s front doors, the annex’s front doors. Staff and faculty are allowed access to Exit 2 on Campus Road only when there is a school safety agent posted. The alarms will go off whenever someone walks out of any exits with the alarm and will only be set off only in the area where the door is located. When a faculty member hears that alarm, they must respond, or notify the principal’s office or the dean’s office to check the doors. Also, the alarms will always be on.
In case of a fire drill, the alarms will be disengaged minutes before the drill happens, and they will be back on as soon as the drill is over. There will also be a logbook to keep track of when the alarms are disengaged as well as security guards at the exits without alarms at all times.
This new alarm system is meant to ensure the student body’s safety. With the new door alarms and video surveillance, the school is able to keep track of who exits the building.
Avonte’s law was passed because of Avonte Oquendo’s disappearance in October 2013. Avonte had autism and did not speak. During the search, there was video footage found that showed Avonte just wandering out the side door of his school. According to a study conducted by the Interactive Autism Network and AWAARE, 49 percent of children and teens with autism attempt to run, or wander. Of that percentage, 53 percent of the children were missing long enough to cause serious concern, according to Senator Charles Schumer’s Press Release in January 2015.
Sadly, Avonte was found dead three months after his disappearance. Because of the incident, Department Of Education wanted to avoid having an accident like this again.
“I think that the new alarm system will improve the layer of security we have in the building,” said Mr. Richard Franzese. “I think that the noise will be so annoying that people will think to leave through the main entrance.”
He hopes that this alarm system will have an impact on the security in this school. However, he explains that he knows some students will test these alarms. If a student constantly does such, it may lead to disciplinary actions and possible suspension.
“There will always be students who will make the fire alarms go off even if there isn’t an emergency, so the alarms might add more confusion and disruptions instead of trying to keep us safe,” said Christine Ly ’16.
Students are skeptical or in agreement. Some are afraid the alarms will worsen traveling the hallways, or that the alarms will have technical difficulties much like the fire alarm system.
“I think that the alarms will be beneficial to the security of the school,” said Xiomara Heron ‘16, “But due to the amount of students that attend Midwood, it will cause a lot of crowding.”
Meryum Gondal ‘17 added, “The D.O.E is using their resources on buying a not so needed system that will most likely glitch every time it’s tested or put into play.”
While some students remain skeptical, others show full support.