Douglasville, GA - As America marks the first anniversary of the tragic shooting at a Connecticut elementary school schools in Douglas County are trying out a new security system.
Every elementary and middle school is now equipped with a camera, intercom and electronically locking front door. Take Arbor Station Elementary School, for instance. Like all doors, the main entrance is locked from the inside. Signs direct visitors to push a doorbell-like device, which rings in the school’s administration office. You push the button and hear an electronic chime. Then, a voice calls out on the intercom.
“Welcome to Arbor Station. Can you please state your name and purpose?”
Once you’ve complied, you’re likely to be asked to produce your identification and hold it up to the silver dollar-sized camera mounted in the brick wall. Only when school employees are satisfied you are who you say you are and you’ve come for a legitimate reason will they hit a button that deactivates the electronic door lock.
A year after the Sandy Hook shootings, which left 20 students and six school employees dead at an elementary school in Connecticut, this is the new normal.
“You would expect somebody to ring the doorbell at your house and not just walk right in the front door. You would have a similar expectation at our schools,” said Douglas County School Superintendent Gordon Pritz.
Parents like Lindsey Napier generally welcome the new security, which will be county-wide by the end of next month.
“This was my first time going through it,” said Barbara Jenkins, the parent of a second grader. “I thought it was great.
But some parents were still thinking it through as they waited at school Tuesday afternoon to pick up their children at day’s end.
“I feel more comfortable with it, but at the same time, I feel it may be somewhat like overkill,” said Lindsey Napier, at Arbor Station to pick up his son from kindergarten.
Superintendent Pritz acknowledged he walks a fine line in trying to give families both a sense of security and room to breathe.
“I didn’t sign up to be the warden of a prison,” he told WSB’s Pete Combs. “So we’re not going to create jails.”