A Snohomish County school district is going a step beyond just locking the doors to keep students safe.
Everett Public Schools is installing new video doorbells so staff can see every person who wants access to the building before they let them in.
In a sea of weaving, bobbing boys and girls, it seems it would be easy to float down the halls of Hawthorne Elementary School unnoticed—but it’s not.
Principal Celia O’Connor-Weaver is partially responsible for that. She’s always right in the mix, greeting students at each table in the cafeteria. But safety starts at the front door.
“Across the country, there’s all kinds of things that make you think twice about an open door or easy access, so it makes us rethink security,” O’Connor-Weaver said.
Voters seem to have had the same concerns. New $17,000 security systems are the result of a 2016 voter approved levy. All 26 schools in the district will eventually get the systems.
“At our high schools, we have (school resource officers) and they also cover middle schools. We don’t have SROs at elementary schools and this seemed like the right place to start,” said director of facilities Darcy Walker.
Hawthorne is one of two pilot schools.
When a visitor approaches the door, he or she presses a button and then looks into a camera. A video phone in the school office shows the person’s picture to the office manager, who can converse with the person before the door is unlocked remotely and the visitor is allowed to enter.
While Hawthorne has had a doorbell for at least the last five years, this system allows the vetting of visitors from the safety and comfort of the main office.
“We also have a card reader system here, so eventually all of the staff will be issued cards—badges—that will allow them access into the building,” said Walker.
O’Connor-Weaver said the system gives her just enough peace of mind to let her stop counting heads and instead count her blessings.
“My students and my staff—it’s the best place to be. I love getting up every day and coming to work and know that you’re making a difference,” she said.
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