School alters security policy

Henryetta Public Schools have enforced a new security policy that requires parents and guardians to take a few extra steps when entering the schools or picking up their students early. 
(Photo by Ashley Wolstoncroft)
By ASHLEY WOLSTONCROFT
Free-Lance Editor
 
The holiday break is over and students are back in school. 
While returning to routines, parents and guardians might have noticed having to take a few extra steps when dropping off and picking up their children. Henryetta Public Schools’ newest security system requires parents to receive approval from a secretary before being permitted to enter the locked building, and also requires them to provide identification before signing their child out of school early. A letter notifying parents of the new measure was published on Dec. 14. 
“Mr. Enis (Federal Programs Director) had done a safety walkthrough, and we felt like our buildings were just too open and available,” Elementary School Principal Kelly Furer said.
Enis said every school must have a plan of action and be prepared to respond to the needs of students and staff. 
“We are responsible for the safety and welfare of the students and employees while in our care,” he said. “Mr. Noble, our Superintendent, and each building principal meet and discuss ways to improve what we have and how to improve our safety policy and procedures. The new security system that was installed in our building, we feel is a good step. We will continually evaluate and try to improve the security measures in our school system.”
Now, all school doors will be locked from the outside; however, a panic bar is available in the case of an inside emergency. 
“We don’t want people to think that we are chained in or anything,” Furer said. 
She said that the security system is not much different from the procedures that were already in place before break. 
“It’s basically the same thing we do right now other than our doors will stay locked at all times where previously they were not, where anyone could come in at any time,” Furer said. 
“Now it will be like a screening technique. They’ll stop, they’ll talk to the secretary and then they’ll be allowed to enter the building. When parents pick students up, we will be more able to secure their safety as well because they will show an ID and the camera will allow my secretaries to see the ID and we will then buss the student out. Once the student comes to the door, we will buzz the student out and allow them to be picked up.”
Furer gave specific instructions how parents should utilize the system.
First, they should stand 6-12 inches away from the video screen and touch the silver speaker button at the bottom right of the intercom system. The same procedures should be followed when signing out a student, but parents will also show an ID through the video system to ensure students are being released to the correct individual. There will be a sign out sheet on a clipboard attached to the window for parents to sign, then the child will be sent out to the parent. 
Henryettan and parent Sallee Page is required to use the system when she takes her head start child to speech. She described her experience thus far.
“I pushed the button, told them I was there to drop her off and they opened the door for me to bring her in. They ask parents of head start kids to wait at an area just inside the door, and when her teacher is ready for her, she’ll come to me to get her,” Page said. 
She believed the process was uncomplicated, and said the school was cooperative in answering any questions she had about the procedure.
“As with any new system, we know there will be glitches that will come, so any person who uses the system and is not satisfied is welcome to give suggestions,” Furer advised. 
Other parents also provided feedback. 
“I think it is a wonderful idea,” Colt Gavin said. “We have health insurance to cover our children’s medical needs, we have seatbelts and car seats to protect our children in our vehicles, we pay taxes for police officers and firefighters to protect our children…why would we not want to implement a security system to protect our children at school?” he said. 
“It’s the same general concept as keeping children in appropriate car seats longer. I might feel like an inconvenience at the time, but one horrible accident prevented by proper safety measures will make all the ‘inconvenience’ worth it.”
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