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Safety measures taken

Published December 14. 2013 09:00AM

Here's a snapshot of some of the security enhancements schools are putting into place to keep students and staff safer:

PANTHER VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT: Reconfigured its elementary school. All visitors only have access to the office area through a communication window - all visitors only have access to a small cubicle in the office. Once office staff determines why the visitor is there, the visitor is directed to the proper conference room or principal's office. This same system will be completed at the high school over the next few months. Superintendent Rosemary Porembo said administrators have been coordinating monthly drills with the local police and Carbon County Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Nalesnik. The district has also purchased additional equipment and anticipates working with local police teams to practice "shooter drills."

Panther Valley has also purchased entry kits to assist first responders to gain access to any area of the school.

WEATHERLY AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT: Has made several improvements over the past year, including installing additional security cameras, replacing some interior and exterior doors, performing building-wide safety drills, and working with the Weatherly Police Department.

PALMERTON AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT: In 2012 the state police conducted a risk and vulnerability assessment of the junior and senior high schools. The district has monthly safety committee meetings, and has pursued Safe Schools Targeted Grants to upgrade and enhance its security measures. Several administrators have attended trainings conducted by the the Governor's Office of Homeland Security.

LEHIGHTON AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT: Has card readers for entering the buildings during occupied hours for all employees. It has increased the number of security cameras throughout the district and made adjustments to many of the locations at all buildings. The district has also changed traffic patterns to increase the safety of students.

Signs posted at the main entrances to all buildings instruct visitors to press the buzzer, identify themselves and tell staff why they are there.

Superintendent Jonathan Cleaver said that "one of the focus areas for the district is the safety of our buildings as we move forward with building projects."

TAMAQUA AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT: Numerous entrances have been addressed with better components to make illegal entry more difficult. Security film has been placed on many windows to restrict outside viewing on ground floor classrooms, and emergency evacuation procedures have been modified and practiced.

Walk-throughs have been performed by local law enforcement to maintain familiarity with our school buildings, and the district has applied for grants to upgrade the entry and video surveillance systems.

JIM THORPE AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT: Has installed a new entrance restricted area at the high school to assist people coming in. Visitors can no longer walk into the Commons area; they have to be buzzed in twice. At L.B. Morris, the district has installed alarms on some additional outside doors that are not necessarily main points of access, and has installed additional security cameras both in and outside all three buildings.

CARBON CAREER AND TECHNICAL INSTITUTE: Regularly conducts drills for lockdowns, evacuations, fire, severe weather, and other emergencies. The drills are conducted by the school's crisis team, which consists of a cross section of staff members. Also, many security/safety features were designed into the recently completed building/renovation project, including double-door entry through the main entrance, a swipe card system at all entry doors, and 50 security cameras on the interior and exterior of the building.

PLEASANT VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT: Has for at least 10 years used random metal detector tests on students from fourth grade up, said Assistant to the Superintendent Chris Fisher. Student identification tags have been required for at least five years. The district uses an electronic entry system, so keys are not needed. There are armed officers and cameras in school buildings, and visitors must hand over their driver's licenses until they leave the building. After school hours, monitors keep track of those attending events.

NORTHERN LEHIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT: Has installed a new entryway to the elementary school, and tightened security. Visitors must show credible photo ID such as a driver's license. Local police have done a security audit, and the district is waiting for the results of one done by state police. Staff has attended security training sessions, and several are members of the state antiterrorism task force. The district has moved trash containers away from buildings, and locked them; parking lot lights have been made brighter, and plans are in place to install barricades to prevent vehicles from being crashed into doors.

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