Visitors at Fenton Area Public Schools won’t simply be able to walk in freely any longer.
In efforts to create stronger security for the district, officials are installing buzzer systems in all buildings, forcing visitors to identify themselves before entering the school. Cameras will also be installed so staff can observe those coming to the door. All other doors of the buildings will be locked.
After pushing the "call in" button, guests will be asked to state the nature of visit, their names and the student’s name. Once admitted, all adults in the building must check in at the office and wear a Visitor’s Badge.
“It may be an inconvenience to some people that are used to running in and having free access, but being more cautious and protective is the right thing to do for our students and staff,” said Fenton Superintendent Tim Jalkanen.
He said the decision for increased security were based on the Sandy Hook shooting and other events across the country, along with talks with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department and Fenton Police Department.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Fenton Police Chief Rick Aro said about the buzzer system. “We are looking at other security enhancements that could take place over the next few months.”
Aro said Fenton Police have been working with a Genesee County Sheriff’s Department officer, hired to be a school liaison for all Genesee County Schools with the main goals of putting together protocol for crisis situations and enhancing security.
“We are still working closely with all the schools,” Aro said.
The buzzers have been installed and are now operating in all Fenton Area Public Schools, except Fenton High School. The high school's system should be working by the end of this week, Jalkanen said.
North Road Elementary put the buzzer system into effect on Monday. The buzzer system will activate each day at 8:55am and stay on until 3:25pm.
No adult is allowed go to a classroom or wait outside of a classroom during school hours without permission and a badge. School staff is required to wear a picture I.D. badge and are authorized to question any individual inside the building who is not wearing a visitor’s badge.
North Road Elementary Principal Trevor Alward said he has received nothing but positive feedback from parents.
“They are appreciative that we took safety into consideration,” he said.
Alward said the staff is still working on a script to greet visitors to be welcoming, yet able to get information from people they don’t recognize. Jalkanen said he doesn’t want parents or visitors to be discouraged from visiting the school.
“We are still a school and we want to be inviting,” Jalkanen said. “Most visitors are parents picking up kids, or dropping things off. We still want to be inviting in addition to the extra level of security.”