New entrances and new precautions

BASD upgrades security measures throughout the district


Anson Jones

Officer Jeff Hanna checks out surveillance cameras in the new security office inside the high school.

Hope Shook and Mya Decker, Staff Writer and Multimedia Editor

School safety has become a priority at Bellwood-Antis School District since 2015 when Dr.Tom McInroy became superintendent. The push continued this school year with several upgrades to the security system.

The school administration  made the decision to only allow one primary entrance to the high school/middle school building  during school hours, and it is located at the flag pole entrance. It is a practice that has been in effect at Myers Elementary for several years. Visitors entering there must pass through the main office first.

In the morning, when students are entering the building, there are three entrances: the flag pole, the bus port, ad the middle school.

The idea is that the school is at its most vulnerable in the morning when the students and faculty are arriving, so by reducing the number of unlocked doors allows the security staff the ability to better protect and monitor the school. Before the change, students were able to enter the school building from any unlocked door, which made it very difficult to monitor everyone entering in the morning.

“The most recent push came after the (Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School) incident. We wanted to make students and their parents feel safe,” said security officer Mr. Jeff Hanna.

Having more than three primary entrances could also create a situation where authorities cannot properly monitor everyone who enters the school building, and someone who does not belong could enter without being noticed by the security staff.

Another fear is that if the security staff cannot screen those entering in the morning, someone could bring something into the school that could risk the safety of everyone in the building.

Having only three entrances, and one primary entrance during school hours, keeps many of these risks at a minimum.

There are further plans on the books for increased security.

“In the future, we plan to have a license verification system,” said security officer Mr. Tim Mercer. “Basically this means that a person entering the building for any reason other than schooling will have to scan their license, which be run through data bases like Megan’s Law. If anything out of the ordinary pops up, they will not be able to enter.

“It has greatly enhanced our ability to proactively secure our school.”

A greeter now sits in the security office at the main entrance, which use to be the Athletic Director’s office, and anyone who enters the building must check in with the greeter first.

Monitoring the school campus all throughout the day is one of two security guards Officer Mercer and Officer Hanna, who are both retired state policemen.

As time goes on, a third security will be implemented into the staff. Officer Bacher will act as a “sub” for Officer Hanna and Officer Mercer. He is scheduled to start in October of this year.

“We are excited to welcome another guard. We want all the students to know they are safe and protected here at our school,” coming from both guards!

Another piece of the safety plan involves students and faculty. Officer Hanna said he met with students at all levels of the Bellwood-Antis School District to emphasize the importance of never opening doors for people to enter during school hours.

“(If students see someone at a school door) the should get a teacher or direct them to the greeter at the man entrance,” Officer Hanna said.