Six. Another six taken too soon from the world. I’m once again having trouble grasping yet another school shooting–a school shooting that once again involved glass doors. Forgive me if my personal feelings and emotions creep into this blog. I’m just tired of it all, and something has to change.
Whether you realize it or not, the glass industry is fighting this battle as best that it can, but it takes an army, and it could use more troops. In January 2013—just weeks after the shooting at Sandy Hook–I sat in on what was then the Glass Association of North America’s Protective Glazing Committee meeting, and for the first time (at least that I can recall), we had a hardcore discussion about school safety and security. Industry consultant Thom Zaremba led that discussion then, and he’s still at the helm today.
Here are some of the words I wrote in 2013:
As a result of the shooting in Newtown, Conn., many school systems around the country are exploring new ways to increase security. Zaremba provided a collection of news articles that looked at some of these possibilities to show “what’s going on in the media related to this horrific tragedy.” Some schools are considering bullet-resistant glass; another is considering removing glass all together; others are considering arming teachers with firearms. As Zaremba explained, schools across the country are looking at various possibilities.
“The number of industries that are attempting to develop responses to this tragedy is growing every day,” he said. “The common thread is … hardening the exterior envelope, particularly the glass.” He added, though, that even with a stronger envelope, it will also be important to factor in capabilities and mechanisms that can improve how quickly and efficiently law enforcement officers, for example, can respond and arrive to the scene.
It’s been ten years, and we are still having this discussion. And now, there are so many other issues we have to consider. This past January, during the Glass Conference in Miramar Beach, Fla., Zaremba brought up other possible scenarios involving both an active shooter and fire. It’s hard to imagine, but it could happen. What do we do?
There have been talks about code changes, but that’s been slow-moving. These changes will have to start with us—the glass industry. Our industry made major strides last year with the development of a new ASTM International document, Standard Test Method for Forced-Entry-Resistance of Fenestration Systems After Simulated Active Shooter Attack, which was created through the ASTM F12 Security Committee. This is a big step in the direction of making schools safer, as it will help school districts choose from a range of high-performance products that will add additional protection to schools. The availability of a standard test method is perhaps the first step in making a big difference. It will give architects, specifiers, school districts and other jurisdictions a tool to help them make their buildings safer and more secure.
Like a lot of you reading this, I’m a parent. I have a 12-year-old son, and every morning as he leaves for school, I hug him and kiss him, tell him I love him and how proud I am of all he does. I pray for a safe and productive day for him and all the kids, teachers and others working in his school. No school is immune to what happened in Nashville or any of the other schools across the country. I don’t have the answers. But I do know that as an industry, we have the products and resources that can help. Let’s do our part to make a difference.
You made my eyes well with tears, Ellen.
You’re right, we absolutely have the resources to help with this ongoing and preventable crisis. If only we were given the opportunity to install what we know are readily available safety features in the glass of every school and public building, we absolutely can help. This has gone on for far too long — what a tragic anniversary you point out. Every parent should not be forced to worry about whether they will welcome their children home safely at the end of every school day.
You are so right!