As a result of a Department of Homeland Security grant awarded to the Wessington Springs School District last year, security has stepped up a notch at the elementary school with the addition of a remote access unit for the main entrance to the building.
“Safety and security is a priority for our students and staff at the Wessington Springs School District,” said Dr. Pandi Pittman, Wessington Springs School District Superintendent.
Pittman explains that during the renovation of the high school building, the same security measure was installed. Now the focus is on the security of the elementary building.
“If you haven’t experienced a remote access door, a highlighted button is located to the right side of the exterior entrance. Pushing the button will ring into the main office,” Pittman points out. “From that position, the office personnel can see the visitor and allow access. The main door will be locked during the school day to protect students and staff that are present.”
Wessington Springs Elementary School Principal Carrie Azure asks parents, guardians and visitors for patience as the school and its visitors become accustomed to the new, secured entry system.
“After pressing the button, there is a slight delay,” Azure said. “Visitors just have to wait a few seconds until they either hear a staff member’s voice over the speaker or the click of the door unlocking.”
In addition to the new security measure, representatives from the Wessington Springs School District board of education, administration and staff will also meet soon with local law enforcement, fire department and county ambulance service to develop appropriate lockdown, evacuation, and reunification plans.
“We have combined forces to ensure the safe evacuation of students and staff in the event of an emergency, as well as safe transportation of emergency crews,” Pittman stated. “In addition, communication plans for parents and guardians will be developed for a safe and effective reunification at the alternative location. The goal is to have this plan in effect as soon as it is completed.”