Channahon schools begin year with added security
BY JEANNE MILLSAP Correspondent September 9, 2013 8:46PM
Updated: October 11, 2013 6:23AM
Channahon School District 17 schools began the school year with upgraded security systems, with the goal of making sure its students remain as safe as possible from threats of violence.
Extra security measures were approved last year for the main entrances of N.B. Galloway School (kindergarten to second grade) and Three Rivers School (fifth and sixth grades), and work was completed over the summer.
Previously, only the outermost sets of double doors had security buzzers for visitors to press to be allowed to enter. Now, both sets of doors must be unlocked from the offices.
The inner doors at Galloway also now are windowless, so visitors do not see young students passing through the halls. There are also better cameras and monitors and new audio systems with the entry security and new windows in the office at Three Rivers for staff to see visitors.
Visitors at all of the schools must state their name, their student’s name and reasons they need to enter the buildings when buzzing to enter. Only then are the doors unlocked to the inner, secured foyer. Once the visitor is there, office staff can make visual confirmation and remotely unlock the inner door.
Visitors then must sign in and leave a driver’s licenses before going into the body of the school. When leaving, visitors must exit through the office to regain their licenses. That way, according to Supt. Karin Evans, everyone will be accounted for.
Parents have also been informed they may not allow anyone to enter the building behind them. Each visitor must buzz on his or her own and be admitted separately.
Channahon Junior High School also added security measures, with the work being completed the second week of class.
Pioneer Path (third and fourth grades) already had stricter security in place.
Evans said the new security procedures have been well-received by parents and other visitors.
“Our parents are totally understanding of our safety procedures for entering our buildings,” she said. “Preventing unauthorized access to buildings is paramount. All doors are shut and locked. We do not allow any doors to be propped open, except when we have deliveries, and at that time, two custodians are asked to be available for the delivery and making sure that no one is entering the building.”
Village police also make themselves visible in and near the schools at various times during the school day, she said.
The added security measures already were in the planning stages when two incidents in other parts of the country solidified the administration’s convictions to increase security.
In Decatur, Ga., last month a man entered a school office with an AK-47 by following another visitor who had been buzzed in. In December 2012, a school shooting in Newton, Conn., left 26 children and adults dead and others injured.
In a statement released recently, Evans said, “Because students should be able to feel as safe in their school environment as in their homes, it is our job to ensure that we keep improving our school security procedures and protocols and ensure they are always being enforced.”
The district also conducts evacuation, fire, storm and active shooter drills throughout the school year.