WEST POINT, Miss. (WCBI) – In the wake of the deadly Connecticut shooting schools across the country are rethinking security at their campuses.
Across Northeast Mississippi, West Point is among the first to take significant steps to change the way visitors enter schools.
“When Mr. McDonald our superintendent came in last year one of his main priorities was safety and security of our students. And you know no matter what the cost is,” said Rob Smith, Assistant Superintendent, WPSD.
For years now West Point school officials have been working on altering the entrances to 90% of the schools in their district.
Construction has begun on the entrances of Church Hill and Southside Elementary Schools.
“Its not that we have slighted, you know that school on security. Its just the fact that until this incident happened in Connecticut; who would have thought somebody would have gone into an elementary school as they did. And as you look at all the case studies across the nation, most of the things that happen are either in high schools or college level areas,” said Smith.
Work on security changes can be seen mainly at those schools.
Magnetic locks called “intelligent access” leading to main buildings, are being set in place, limiting access to any unwanted and unsavory characters.
Video cameras, intercom access systems and stronger doors also are being installed.
“And some areas teachers and students still need to be able to access parts of the building, you know without somebody pushing a button all the time. So these entrances allow teachers just to come in, swipe a card, the door will open. And then once they come in the door will close,” said Smith.
Maintaining a healthy and safe learning environment, while keeping those spaces free from harmful elements become key to fashioning new alterations in many school districts.
“Every decision that we’re making is in the best interest of our children and the safety and security of them,” said Smith.
Those modifications will ensure for a tighter security.
And of course the modifications will be completed by the first of the year.
While managing access is a big issue, West Point, Calhoun and Monroe counties and others are among school districts in the area also looking at increasing the number of armed resource officers and security guards at their schools.
But funding may be an issue for some of those districts.