The evacuation site for C and D building classes has been changed to the tennis courts in an attempt to reduce congestion on the football field. This change brings up some concerns and questions regarding the tennis courts’ safety and effectiveness as an evacuation site.
Last year during an evacuation at BHS, most of the students would have to walk through the basketball courts and the single 10 foot wide entrance between the football bleachers and softball cage onto the football field. The C and D building students would enter the football field from in between the tennis courts and swimming pool. Although the change in evacuation site was made to reduce congestion while going to the field, diverting only the C and D building students should have no effect on the massive congestion between the football bleachers and the softball cage since the C and D building students already enter from a different entrance in the first place. Not only is the change in evacuation site ineffective, it is also unsafe and dangerous in the case of an emergency.
The tennis courts are an enclosed area with 10 foot high fences on all four sides — an obstacle that is difficult to scale for many. The tennis courts’ access points consist of two doors: one 48 inch wide door and one 96 inch wide door. With the C building holding anywhere between 300 and 500 students at a time, these two access points are not adequate to allow the fast flow of students in and out of the tennis courts. Furthermore, the doors to the tennis courts are normally locked to prevent unauthorized usage. During an emergency, it would be impractical to require someone to unlock the doors to the evacuation site. If it were to be necessary for students to leave the evacuation site because of a school shooter or an approaching fire, it would be a slow process, threatening the safety and well-being of the students.
“It’s almost as if we are going into a cage,” sophomore Arthur Powers said.
When questioned about the topic, sophomore Aaron Becker said that he “won’t feel as safe [on the tennis courts] as [he] would on the field” during an evacuation.
With obstacles such as 10 foot tall fences, limited and locked access points and failure to address the problem of congestion, the tennis courts fail as a safe and effective evacuation site. To properly address the problem with congestion, it may be a worthwhile investment to move the softball cage elsewhere, which would widen the entrance to the football field significantly. Outside of the softball season, it serves no purpose other than as a storage area. Another solution could just be to evacuate onto the softball field. It is not fully enclosed and even larger than the tennis courts.