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When one door closes, use the new intercom

By Staff | Jan 19, 2014

As of Monday morning, Blue Earth Area schools will be on lock down.

But, it’s not as serious as it sounds.

The School Board decided last spring to begin enforcing controlled-access doors at the schools. Now, they are finally putting that decision into motion.

This means all doors at all three BEA?sites will be locked during school hours, including the elementary, Winnebago elementary, high school and middle school.

“Student safety is our number one priority,”?Superintendent Evan Gough says. “And, this is our next step in security at our school district.”

But, individuals wanting to enter any of the buildings are not completely out of luck thanks to the controlled-access systems which are set up outside the main doors at each school.

“There will be signage on the doors instructing visitors to buzz into the school secretaries,” Gough explains.

The systems work like a doorbell and once the button is pushed a video camera will turn on and the school secretaries inside will be alerted there is a visitor. The secretary will then be able to see the visitor who is buzzing in and they can speak with the person over an intercom connected to the system.

“The secretary will welcome you and have you sign in at the office,” Gough adds.

Gough says parents and visitors of the school are used to coming to one main door, the only difference now is they will have to buzz in, which is as simple as ringing a doorbell.

“We have been using this week as training for the younger students and to prepare staff,” he adds.

The school has sent emails to parents and notes home with students as well.

“We want to remain welcoming and inviting to everyone,”?Gough says.

He also hopes people will be patient as this system first gets put to use.

“We will have bumps along the way,” Gough says. “And if anyone has suggestions for us, let us know.”

He goes on to say the members of the staff have met and discussed some issues that could arise, such as secretaries being away from their desks and intercoms.

“We are trying to be proactive when it comes to these potential issues,” Gough says.

They have also discussed the idea of having paraprofessionals in the office during busy times such as lunchtime throughout the day.

“Each desk has a system, and there are two secretaries in most of the offices,”?Gough says. “So that way there should always be someone there to greet visitors.”

As for non-school hours, the doors will not be locked or controlled by the new system. Students arriving to school in the mornings will be able to get in and out of the building without buzzing in, as they always have.

After school activities and community ed classes also will not be affected and people will be able to enter without being buzzed in, as well.

“My assumption is that a lot of districts schools have added this or will be,”?Gough says. “I know that Maple River and Red Wing both have controlled access.”

Prior to the Columbine school shooting, this was never an issue in school systems.

“Before that incident all doors in most school were left unlocked,”?Gough says. “It’s sad that we even have to consider that now.”

But, with student safety remaining its number one concern, BEA school district has taken the next step to keeping that goal in sight.