On Thursday Oct. 24, Middle and Upper School students received key cards, which they now use to enter buildings on campus, as the Buildings and Grounds team has locked all doors on campus in an effort to ensure further security.
The plan was initiated primarily by Head of School Tom Dillow and other administrators on the security committee. After a security evaluation, the school was looking for ways to make the campus even more secure in light of tragic shootings that have taken place at schools around the country.
The plan was implemented in stages. The Buildings and Grounds team started by locking the outer perimeter of the school which included the backside of buildings and keeping only the doors facing the senior green unlocked. Now the team has initiated the second phase of the plan, where they have locked all doors and relied on a key card entry.
Students now have access to 15 doors with their key cards: the front door of CT, the north side of CT, the CT Wyvern Courtyard, the front and rear entrances of the Dining Hall, the east side entrance to Seaverns Hall, the Brayton Athletic Center, the Lobby Center, the front entrance of the House, the Choral Room Door, the front left and front right entrances of Roberts, and the lower lobby of Roberts, as well as the front and rear doors of Oxford Hall.
Most of these doors are open for entry from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; the dining hall entrances close at 2:00 p.m. The Seaverns Hall entrance opens at 7:30 a.m. and closes at 3:30 p.m.; the Brayton Athletic Center is open for key card entry from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and then from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m..
For the Middle School entrance and the entrance to the bottom of Roberts the team has installed cameras and buzz-in entry system, where visitors have to verify their identity with Administrator Lindsay Perkins before being able to enter campus.
Director of Facilities Larry Marciano said that he was initially nervous about implementing the plan, since the system was going from 140 fobs (issued to faculty and staff) to now 941 key cards. “Getting the system up and running had its challenges, and electronics can be very unforgiving, ” he said.
For the Buildings and Grounds team, these past few weeks have really been about transitioning and getting all the bugs out of the system. “Every new project has its quirks and hiccups, and we have had our share, as we have had to reissue the cards that were hole punched,” Mr. Marciano said. “It has been a learning curve for us because before when you had a manual door and manual lock, you encompass the problem right here, whereas with automation and wireless services, the problem could be anywhere.”
Dean of Students Will Gilyard said that he thinks the key card system has been pretty successful and the issues have been controlled. “I think kids really like having access to some doors; the only challenge is if you lose a card or demagnetize, there is a cost of replacing it and waiting time,” he said.
There is no cost to the student for the first replacement, but an $8 fee for the second replacement of a key card.
Mrs. Perkins said that she asks students to be patient and flexible with key card issues. She is working with the Buildings and Grounds team to have cards reissued within 48 hours, so the security team can deactivate the old card and reactivate a new one, which both are processes that take place on campus.
“Once we work the kinks out, it shouldn’t take that long,” she said. “Students should just come to me if they lose their card.”
While most students enjoy having this new system in place, some also think there are slight inconveniences. “I like that the campus is more secure now and only accessible to students and staff,” junior Rinese Sterling said. “There are a few issues like some students not being able to get in buildings and I think students could have been informed about how to handle them a little bit better since a lot of students punched holes in them and were not aware that they were ruining the chip inside.”
Senior Amelia Boardman said that she likes having access to all entrances of buildings. “I like to be able to get into the side doors and I think that once all the issues get smoothed over, and we make it over this transition period, it will be a lot better and convenient,” she said.
Sophomore Samhita Kashyap said that she thinks the key cards are a great idea. “In theory they are a really good idea because they ensure campus safety and they teach students to be responsible,” she said. “But very easy to lose, destroy, and mishandle.”
Junior Sydney Dwyer said that she thinks the whole system could have been implemented better. “Not all the doors work, and the cards are really finicky, which is frustrating when you are trying to go to class,” she said. “Maybe if they were reliant, it would have been more successful.”
Junior Huaxu Dan said he agreed that it can be frustrating. “While it’s great to be able to get into more doors, it’s easy to forget your card at home, and the detection is not perfect, which can waste time,” he said.
Freshman Hailey Williams said she agreed that the key cards are not that bad. “It’s a very useful, and a quicker way to where I need to go,” she said.
While Mr. Marciano said he understands why some might initially think the key cards are an inconvenience, it is more important to be safe. “Eventually they will just become matter-of-fact,” he said.