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Following campus wide technical malfunction, Galt High looks for solutions

GHS’s newly upgraded campus fire alarm panel (left) next to one of three panels from the previous system.
Josh Cullers
GHS’s newly upgraded campus fire alarm panel (left) next to one of three panels from the previous system.

A campus-wide wifi malfunction demonstrated the need to complete an upgrade of Galt High School’s fire alarm system, according to administrators, teachers and students.

When the wifi went out Mar. 20, the fire alarm wasn’t audible to all the classrooms, leaving many students and teachers confused, said GHS German and English teacher Maria Sanders.

“On the day when the internet was out,” Sanders said, “… the office basically had no way of communicating with us. I didn’t even hear (the fire alarm), and when a student said something … I looked outside and I opened the door and heard it. My thought process was, ‘Is that the fire alarm?’ ”

The fire alarm malfunction posed a great safety concern, Sanders said.

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“I think it is a big problem that the fire alarm doesn’t go off in every part of campus,” Sanders said. “I think it is a safety concern, and I’ve worked at places where if they knew that their fire alarm wasn’t working, they canceled school until they had it fixed. So I think it should be much higher on their list of concerns than it seems to be.”

The confusion led to an unproductive day, GHS senior Chaser Fischer said.

“It was really chaotic, to be honest,” Fischer said. “The fire drill was going off but also wasn’t at the same time in certain classrooms, so everyone was confused as to what was going on. Basically no work was done that day because no one was able to do anything at all since the internet was out. I think they should have just canceled school altogether.”

On the other hand, the wifi being down made it the perfect opportunity to have a fire drill to test the alarm system’s capabilities, GHS principal Kellie Beck said.

“That’s the time you do things to see when everything’s not working,” Beck said. “To make sure that even under the worst circumstances, when things aren’t working, that you can keep kids safe.”

Beck attributed the fire alarm’s issues to a district upgrade.

“I knew that it was going to be a problem,” Beck said. “Because (the Galt High School District is) currently upgrading the whole system. They did advise us not to do this, but I did it anyway because that’s when we need to do it.”

GHS vice principal Alan Posey agreed the combination of the district upgrades and the loss of wifi provided a great opportunity to test the system.

“At the time (the upgrades) were probably about 60% done,” Posey said. “So when we do a fire drill, we want it to be realistic. So I talked to (Beck) about us doing that, and she was all for it because there could be a fire at any time.”

The impromptu fire drill reinforced the need for an upgrade, Posey said.

“We were told that certain parts of the campus weren’t programmed at that point,” Posey said. “And so those (areas) didn’t work. But (our goal was) just seeing how many areas worked and if we can get (the alarm) off.”

There is no estimated date for completing the upgrades, Beck said.

“With anything at this school, you have a timeline,” Beck said. “But once you start digging around, you know it’s over 100 years old. So then there becomes more problems that you find along the way so… I don’t actually have an update right now on when it’s supposed to be done by.”

The upgrades will reduce the amount of time and effort it takes for the administration to get situations under control by reducing the amount of panels that were initially added with new buildings, Posey said.

“You look at all these buildings, and they were all built at different times,” Posey said. “Some of the original buildings had alarms that worked, (but now) it’ll just be one panel with one button.”

Despite the upgrades and the issues, Beck said safety remains the priority.

“It’s a constantly evolving thing,” she said. “But safety is the most important thing on campus – period. Unfortunately in this day and age, you can’t guarantee anything … but it’s really important that we practice and we understand and we make sure that we’re ready for anything.”

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About the Contributor
Josh Cullers
Josh Cullers, Reporter
I am a senior at Galt High School.
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