By CRISTINA JANNEY
New secure entrances have been constructed at Hays High and Hays Middle School.
Each school now has a breezeway through which visitors will enter the school during school hours. The breezeways funnel visitors through the schools’ offices.
At the middle school, visitors will have to ring a door bell at the far left door of the main entrance, which is located on the south side of the building. HMS Principal Tom Albers said eventually the school will install a camera in the breezeway. Visitors will enter the breezeway and be buzzed into the office.
Beginning this fall, the middle school will require all students to enter through the west gymnasium door in the morning. Albers said this will allow him to greet students in the morning and better control students’ movement through the building.
Parents can still drop students off in the morning on the south side of the building, but the students will need to walk around to the west side to enter the school.
Albers said for fire safety, students and staff can exit through doors throughout the building, but they are not accessible to people entering the buildings and they lock behind the person exiting the building.
Albers said he liked having the breezeway at the main entrance to the building. Students who need to stay after school for an activity or homework help can wait in the breezeway out of the weather and can watch out the front windows for someone to pick them up at the front of the school.
At the high school, all of the doors will be unlocked as students arrive in the morning. While school is in session, all of the doors will be locked except the far left door at main west entrance. Visitors will enter the breezeway, and then they will be buzzed in by office staff and enter the school through the office. The high school is also in the process of upgrading its camera system at the front entrance.
The school board approved the project in April. The district received more than $86,000 in grants for the secure entrances project. The district’s portion was $16,693.
Both principals said they thought the new entrance configurations will improve safety at the schools.
“We have so many, whether it is UPS or FedEx or students coming in from off campus. We have a lot kids who go to NCK. We have a few kids who take advanced classes at Fort Hays. We have parents bringing up shoes for practice — any number of situations,” Martin Straub, HHS principal, said. “Almost always people have good intentions, but if one out of a million is not a good intention, it will allow us to screen them before that person is allowed in. I think it is a good step in the right direction.
“I think it will definitely change the way we do business, but that is not a bad thing either.”
Straub asked visitors to be patient with the school staff as they adjust to the new routine.
Albers said, “It is much more safe because we have controlled access to our building. … Now you have to go through a direct entryway to our building. From that standpoint, it makes it much more secure for us.”
HMS parents and guardians should have received an email about the entrance change. They will receive a notice by mail if they do not have email.