We are three weeks into the new school year, more than enough time for teachers, parents and students to have a feel for how things are going. Thanks to the hundreds of you who answered the WINK News back-to-school survey, we can say what Southwest Florida feels is good and not-so-good at school and what your priorities are for this school year.
More than 750 teachers, parents and students talked to WINK about everything from mental health to COVID-19 to the Parental Rights in Education law (the so-called Don’t Say Gay law) to whether the teacher and bus driver shortages are slowing down progress in the classroom. But the clear priority for those who took part in our non-scientific survey is the safety and security of everyone in school.
As students get off the bus in the morning and get to class before the bell rings, 40% of all of the parents, teachers and students said safety and security are their top priorities this year, ranking as the number one option in the WINK News back-to-school survey.
One comment from the mother of a student at Ida Baker, a high school in the news this week due to a threat. This mom took the survey that same day and said: “I waited to do this survey until after my daughter came home from school today and told me what safety measures her school took… Well, here’s how it is.”
She said she did not notice extra police. She didn’t like how students and staff had to gather and wait in the auditorium, and she was sure teachers were concerned for their safety as well. Her last sentence: “No safety at school here.”
Several teachers raised this issue, too. Apparently, the doors that are supposed to lock as soon they close sometimes do not lock. WINK News will investigate this claim.
What about students? One said: “We had a lockdown the other day and we were all in the hallway and it was crowded. So, I’m worried for my safety, because where are we all going to hide if something really happened?”
But there is good news: Nearly 75% of parents, teachers and students who took part in the survey believe schools are safe. Is it the shooter training drills? Or the safety measures implemented in local schools after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas?
One parent said: “I think the police have it together here. They have a plan in the event of an emergency.” Another parent who commented on our survey said the school does a pretty good job at keeping the front doors locked and that there is always a police officer there.
Who exactly took part in the survey? Nearly 400 people said they were parents or guardians. Around 200 said they were teachers, school staff or students.
What’s next? WINK News is going to call those of you who said you want to share your thoughts about this school year and will take all the results to Southwest Florida’s school districts for officials’ reactions.
If you’d like to see the questions and results and read the comments, you can find them here on the WINK News website.