The Central Virginian

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Buzzed in school

Posted on Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Visitors at four of six Louisa County Schools must press an audio/visual buzzer system to enter the school.

The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut this past December set many school districts on edge, causing them to rethink the way they approach security.

Louisa County Public Schools has had a policy of locking all exterior doors, except at the front entrance, where door monitors were posted to greet visitors and log them in.

But after the incident in Connecticut, school officials decided to take a step back and evaluate how they might add another line of defense to protect students and staff.

Kenneth Forrest, LCPS director of safety, security and administrative services, investigated options and found that a buzzer system would be a relatively inexpensive, but priceless option.

At a turn-key cost of approximately $6,000, the school division was able to install an audio/visual buzzer system at four of the county’s six schools—Jouett, Moss Nuckols and Trevilians Elementary schools and Louisa County Middle School.

“Obviously, it’s hard to do this at our modular campuses,” Forrest said.

The director said the system appears to be working well, particularly after parents and visitors to the schools have become adjusted to the new technology.

To enter the schools equipped with the added security, parents and others who want to visit the school must first push a buzzer at the front door.

A camera transfers video images to a monitor inside the school and the door monitor uses an intercom to speak to the visitor, who must identify him or herself. Once the monitor has screened the visitor, a button is pushed  and a magnetic release allows the door to open, letting the visitor into the school.

School secretaries rotate throughout the day taking turns as door monitors. They are on the front lines, keeping the schools safe by screening visitors, logging them in and ensuring that they follow protocol.

Door monitors are responsible for being keen observers and looking for anything out of the ordinary.

An example, Forrest said, is if somebody had a hard time explaining why they had to have access to the building, or if it’s a beautiful day and they are wearing a trench coat.

To read the entire story, see the April 25 edition of The Central Virginian.