A system intended to help keep students safe has been installed at all three city high schools and is being put in place at École New Era School.
It allows school staff to lock exterior doors faster in event of a safety threat.
“It’s a much better way to manage the situation in terms of student safety,” said Brandon School Division school board chairman Mark Sefton.
The system was installed at the school division’s office and all three city high schools — Vincent Massey, Crocus Plains, and Neelin — last school year.
The plan is to eventually install the system at some kindergarten to Grade 8 schools as budgeting allows. In fact, Sefton said installation at New Era began this summer and is nearing completion, if it’s not done already.
Sefton estimated the cost of installing the system at the high schools, New Era and the division office came in at a little lower than $150,000.
He explained there were some problems with unwanted guests showing up at schools. Students from one school looking to pick a fight with another pupil they had a problem with, for example.
When a school got a warning from other schools or police, staff would have to go to each door and lock it with an Allen key.
It was slow, and if a staff member was assigned to close a certain door, but was away that day, it posed the risk that an exit would be overlooked and left unlocked, although not all exterior school doors are left unlocked at all times.
Sefton estimated there are at least 25 individual exterior doors at Crocus Plains.
Instead, Sefton said, the new systems allow all the exits at a school to be locked with the push of a button located in the office.
That makes school lockdowns easier and more effective, Sefton said (although a full “lockdown” also involves securing internal doors).
The central system also frees up staff from door duty to help calm students in any stressful situation, or address other duties.
The system isn’t just intended to keep out students or other youth who pose a problem, it provides protection against any threat including adults. It would put a stop to a parent involved in a custody dispute from entering to take their child.
It’s not, however, a protection against one type of threat.
“This is not a defence against school shootings,” Sefton said. “That is not the intent.”
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