AURORA, Colo. — Aurora Public Schools’ closed-campus policy for high schools went into effect Monday, prohibiting students from leaving campus for lunch with few exceptions.
But despite this new policy, some students were seen leaving campus. APS Superintendent Rico Munn acknowledges schools are still trying to make students aware of the change.
“We're not trying to run prisons, right? We're not trying to, you know, tackle kids. We're trying to make sure they understand the rules — just like any other rule in school,” he said.
The change from the open-campus policy the district has held for more than a decade, Munn says, stems from recent shootings involving high school students.
The first shooting happened Nov. 15 at Nome Park, which is down the street from Aurora Central High School, and the second happened Nov. 19 in the parking lot of Hinkley High School. A total of nine teens, six at Nome Park and three at Hinkley, were injured.
Aurora Police Deputy Chief Darin Parker says this is the worst he’s seen of teen violence – two shootings with multiple victims just days apart – in his 26-year career.
“It's concerning and it's frustrating,” he said.
Both shootings are still under investigation, as is the shooting that happened just after midnight Sunday near North Dayton Street and East Colfax Avenue. Five people, between the ages of 16-20, were injured. Munn says he doesn’t know yet whether any of them were APS students.
“We have some information that [the Hinkley High shooting] was gang-related,” Parker said.
He’s waiting to see whether APS’s change in policy will make an impact, and says he welcomes any solutions to curb this violence. Some students, however, aren’t thrilled about it.
“It was kinda sad because we couldn’t really leave,” Jonny, a sophomore at Hinkley High, said Monday afternoon.
Typically, he often goes to McDonald’s for lunch and hangs out in the parking out, but he couldn’t do that under this new policy.
“It was really packed in the halls, and we couldn't leave and stuff ... and it was just boring,” Jonny said. “It’s like prison, like jail.”
He and his friends understand why the change was necessary, but they wish it didn’t cost them their freedom.
“It just sucks that other people had to mess it up for us, for, like, the whole district,” he said.
The policy will remain in effect until winter break. The district will consider then whether to reinstate when kids return in the new year.
Police have made multiple arrests in the Nome Park and Hinkley High shootings, and they’ve determined they are not connected at this time.