Visitors to Rachel Carson Elementary School (RCES) will soon need to be buzzed in through a new security system to be in place there this month.
The project is part of the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) capital projects plan to fit all elementary schools with an access control system by fiscal year 2014. The funding was put in place to enhance school-base security.
“I am excited about it,” said Principal Lawrence Chep. “This is one more key ingredient that ensures that schools are even safer.”
The systems each cost about $10,000, according to Douglas Steel, supervisor of the MCPS Department of School Safety and Security.
Already 51 elementary schools countywide have had the systems installed. RCES is one of 31 schools getting a security system this spring, Steel said. Secondary schools are not getting access control system since they already have surveillance cameras in place, he said.
The access control system includes the installation of a surveillance camera at the school’s main entrance with a second camera at another entrance. Visitors will have to press a button to alert the main office of their arrival.
Three computers in the school’s main office will have the capability to monitor the camera. The visitor can be let in remotely and then asked to come to the main office to check in under the current policy. That policy requires visitors to show identification, sign in to their destination within the school, and wear a visitor’s badge while in the building.
The access system will not be turned on until after students arrive in the morning, around 9 a.m., Chep said. It will also be deactivated during afternoon dismissal.
All other entrances to the school will remain secured at all times.
Chep said he was concerned that his office staff was going to spend a lot of their day buzzing in visitors, but he said other principals with the access systems in place said that hasn’t been an issue.
“I definitely think it will be a safer entry system, but I think schools are one of the safest places you can be,” Chep said “Our staff is good about questioning people without passes. This just makes one more layer of safety.”