Whether this week or next, it’s time for our area’s students to go back to school.
Filled with excitement (we hope), they’ll come through school doors and begin not only another year of education, but also another year of social and emotional growth. As the ones who guide students through the bulk of their days, our educators and administrators have challenging jobs.
Our students and those who shepherd them all deserve a safe, worry-free environment in which to learn and teach.
Toward that goal, starting this year, students in all of Albert Gallatin Area School district’s five elementary schools will have to carry clear plastic or mesh book bags, backpacks or gym bags to school.
Doing so will enable officials to easily identify the bags’ contents and offers another layer of security, officials said.
Frazier Middle School, last year, required students to bring clear bookbags.
And while the Laurel Highlands School District has no official policy, middle school students who opt to bring a clear bag are permitted to carry it around throughout the day.
Still, other districts have discussed — but not implemented — the measure.
We imagine some parents have strong feelings about having their childrens’ belongings on display for all to see. However, we would argue that the ability to see what’s in a student’s school bag adds another layer of protection that parents should welcome.
Few, we’d guess, blinked an eye when metal detectors became commonplace in so many schools.
The reality is that we live in scary and trying times.
Most of us in our 40s and older didn’t go to school plagued with concerns of being shot or stabbed.
Yet now, as the parents or grandparents of today’s students, it’s difficult not to worry, because whether a district is “good” or “bad” has become irrelevant.
All of it is mentally trying, though even as districts implement additional safety measures or engage their district police in active shooter training, there is some good news.
While during the 2017-18 school year, districts in Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties struggled with phony threats of violence, last year, the number of “joke” threats were greatly reduced.
That is due in large part to the seriousness with which both district administrators and law enforcement took them.
Several students were arrested and prosecuted. Those students who were 18 were charged as adults, potentially creating a record that will follow them throughout their lives.
As we head into the 2019-20 school year, we hope students remember this and fully recognize that they are not as clever as the technology available to law enforcement. They will get caught.
We implore them to let the upcoming school year be a smooth, peaceful one.