FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — Thousands of kids are returning to the classroom this week, and for many families, school safety is top of mind.
To increase security, the Fond du Lac school district added new secure entrances to its elementary and middle schools. To enter the schools, visitors must first buzz in outside. Then they enter a waiting area where they must identify themselves and their reason for visiting the school to a secretary before being let into the main building.
Fond du Lac Chief of Schools Matt Steinbarth said this is to make sure only authorized individuals can enter the schools.
"In the past, people would be able to get in, and usually still had to be buzzed in, but from that point, the school was completely wide open," Steinbarth said. "So, if a person would have gotten buzzed in from that very first door, they would have had access to the entire building unless someone would have been able to chase them down and stop them from getting to a different part of the building."
The increased security was in the works for many years but takes on a new urgency now.
“I think with everything that's going on in the country right now, that we know that we want our staff, and students, and our families that send their kids to Fond du Lac School District to feel like their child is safe while in school," Steinbarth said.
Riverside Elementary School Principal Jessica Hughes said school security enables faculty, staff and students to focus on learning.
“Riverside prioritizes school safety as the highest level of care for all of our scholars," Hughes said. "If scholars are safe, they can safely learn and thrive within their learning environments.”
All elementary and middle schools in the Fond du Lac School District will have these secure entrances this fall, and the district plans to implement them at the high school in the future.
The new entrances are part of the district's $98.5 million renovation project, which began in 2019 and will be complete this year.
Other renovations to schools include new classroom features, structural improvements, new roofs to some schools and air conditioning in all buildings.
“Riverside has never had air conditioning, so we are greatly looking forward to that in the near future," Hughes said.
Full details on the facility renovations can be found on the district's webpage.