New school year, new security measures at RPS - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

New school year, new security measures at RPS


ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Columbine, Red Lake, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook -- all names that haunt parents and students across the country.

In the wake of these school shootings, districts across the country have beefed up security, including right here in Rochester.

A new system was installed in every elementary and middle school over the summer.

The new security system was approved by the Rochester School Board back in February.

Wednesday Superintendent Michael Muñoz gave us the first look at how it will work.

A buzzer, multiple cameras, and another locked door are about to become the new normal at Rochester Public Schools.

"The majority of the people that come to our school are regulars and we know who they are," said Muñoz.

But systems like this aren't put in place to protect against "regulars."

For parents, volunteers and visitors, the system is pretty simple, once the school day starts, they'll have to come to the door, ring the buzzer and a person in the office will let them in.

"There's a camera that allows the person in the office to get a visual of the person pushing the buzzer," Muñoz said.

Visitors will be able to talk into a camera on the box, and may notice another camera overhead.

"We added the additional camera here at all the entrances which gets a wide angle view," Muñoz said.

On the inside, employees will be able to see both cameras to help make sure no one is trying to slip in unnoticed, and they will check both views before letting you in.

"The little window [on the phone] is the camera that the box picks up, which would get a view of the person pushing the buzzer; whereas, the larger camera is going to show up on [the computer] screen, which gives us a bigger view of the entire entrance way," Muñoz said.

Now that there are less than two weeks before school starts, two employees at each office will undergo training on how to work the system, what kind of questions to ask and what to do if they think the person at the door might be a threat.

"If they're not sure, they're not going to be the ones making that decision," Muñoz said. "We're going to ask them to reach out to one of their administrators, and the administrator will get involved and help make that decision."

But it's not a perfect system, both Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown and Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy outside of Atlanta had buzzer systems and shooters got in anyway.

Even so, Muñoz says the increase in safety and security is worth it.

"It does provide another layer of safety we believe," he said. "I think it's reassuring to the individuals in the building to know that we have that in place, and I think it sends a message to our community that we really value the safety of everyone in the building."

The district has sent communication to families with students in the Middle and Elementary Schools about the new systems and how they work, but Munoz says he does anticipate a learning period as every one gets used to them.

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