District cancels school because of elections, student safety at risk


Feature photo of sample ballot by Eléa Gilles

Alyssa Gibler

Students aren’t in classes tomorrow, and Michelle Baumstark, community relations director for CPS, said this is for security reasons.
“Voter turnouts for national elections are much larger than with local or state elections,” Baumstark said. “Our first obligation is to maintain a safe learning environment for our students. With a larger number of individuals coming in and out of school buildings and more of our schools being used as polling locations to accommodate larger turnouts, it is prudent to not have school in session.”
According to National School Safety and Security Services, security issues in a “post-Columbine and post-9/11” America have drawn the attention of many school administrators. Senior Chay Vazquez said CPS’s reasoning is a good idea, noting the safety of students in public schools has been a growing concern.
“I think the schools are more aware of student safety and how many strangers walk up into school when they’re voting,” Vazquez said. “Also, all the teachers have to go vote, so you might as well skip school. Most people won’t show up anyways.”
Schools in general are always a place to house elections because they’re public and have plenty of parking room and handicap accessible spots; however. Still, Baumstark said it’s best to try to limit schools as polling places for the future regarding safety.
“We work with the county clerk to try to limit the usage of school buildings as polling locations for elections when possible, as it does create additional safety and security procedures for us,” Baumstark said.
Assistant principal Dr. Tim Baker, who is in charge of safety-related issues at RBHS, such as tornado and fire drills, said the day off is a good move on the part of CPS.
“A lot of schools are made as polling places for the presidential election. It would be just because of the heavy traffic flow. I believe the answer is because it would be safer,” Dr. Baker said. “It’s just safer for everybody because presidential elections by far usually have the biggest voter turnout. It’s just problematic to have school on those days.”