Britton-Hecla Superintendent Kevin Coles thinks that his students are a little bit safer this week. A new security system has been implemented at the school. All doors are now locked during school hours from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Visitors must enter at the main entrance of the Elementary School on the south side or the west entrance of the High School. A button will ring a staff member who views a video monitor and asks the purpose of the visit.
The door can be unlocked from the office and visitors must then report to the office to check in. They must sign a log stating their name, destination, and time checking in and receive a visitor’s badge. When exiting the building visitors must return the badge to the office and check out.
“If staff sees anyone without a badge they are asked to stop them and refer them to the office,” said Coles. “By checking in it enables us to know who is in the building if an emergency situation were to occur.”
Coles said that in the past school officials knew where students were supposed to be but had no way of monitoring visitors. In an emergency situation, they had no way of knowing if there were extra adults on the premises.
Elementary Principal Kyla Richter said she would prefer that parents picking up elementary children after school wait outside the building. Parents who do enter the school should wait in the lobby area and not walk down the halls to classrooms.
Doors will also remain locked after hours and visitors should still go to the main entrances. The doors can be programmed to lock and unlock at certain times to accommodate special events.
Other security items in place include video cameras covering all areas of the school except for restrooms, locker rooms, and classrooms. Some areas outside the building also are covered by the cameras.
Coles said a video and audio camera has also been installed on the bus driving the Veblen route, a camera will be installed on the Hecla bus in the near future, and plans are to have cameras in all buses by the next school year. The bus cameras also provide a GPS reading of where the bus is located as well as the speed the bus is traveling.
“We’re not out trying to play the “I gotcha game” and sitting there watching the cameras,” said Coles. “But if there is an incident, we can go back and see what happened. The cameras should serve as a deterrent to controlling things like bullying in the school.”
The Britton-Hecla Superintendent knows that the new system will cause some inconvenience for people.
“There’s some inconvenience that goes along with security whether it’s at an airport or anywhere else,” said Coles. “It’s just a given. And people will have to adjust to that.
“It may not seem like this is something we need in a small community, but it’s a step we’ve been forced to take,” Coles concluded. “In light of what has happened around the country it’s just something we have to do.”