Students, faculty, and staff will be safer in the Jefferson Township school district in the fall, thanks to the universal lock system in place at all schools. Funded by the referendum passed in October, the universal lock system is one of a few security measures the district recently implemented.

Previously, each classroom had its own individual key. Now, with the universal lock system, each building has a classroom door lock that gives any staff member with a key access to all rooms in the building. The universal lock system makes it faster for teachers to lock down their classrooms in an emergency. Before the universal lock system, teachers had to find their keys, go out into the hallway and lock the door from the outside.This makes it easier for substitute teachers or teachers who share classrooms to access the rooms they need to get into more efficiently.

“In a real emergency situation, to have to find your key, get the right key, make sure your door is locked, it wasn’t very security-friendly to be honest,” Superintendent Jeanne Howe told The Jefferson Chronicle.

With the renovations to the lock system, teachers can instead use the thumb lock on the door to lock down the room from the inside.

The money from the referendum will also fund the implementation of a public address system to send private messages and alerts across each school and the district. In place of making announcements over the intercom, the public address system will allow administration and staff members to push messages and alerts out to the rest of the staff through an app alert or a banner across the staff members’ screens.

The public address system has been implemented at Cozy Lake and Jefferson Township Middle School, and the district will work in phases to install the system in the rest of the schools.

Both of these systems come as the next security measures for the district, but Howe has already been making changes to school security for the past year and a half after the community pushed for increased security in reaction to the Parkland shooting last year. 

Some measures are as simple as putting a bin at the entrance for visitors to drop off items for students and notify the main office during the day, a common occurrence throughout the district. This reduces the number of visitors entering the building and allows secretaries to be more mindful of those coming in since there’s less of them.

Other security measures include a visitor management system called Raptor, which scans a visitor’s ID before entering, and retention vestibules, which is an entrance with two sets of doors that holds visitors inside the first set until they are cleared to enter the second set of doors. The Raptor system has been installed at all buildings in the district.

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