Security upgrades coming to IW schools this summer

Published 2:07 pm Friday, June 23, 2023

Carrsville and Westside will be among the first of Isle of Wight County’s elementary schools to be equipped with “vestibules.”

The security features entail creating an enclosed area at a school’s main entrance where visitors would need to check in with the school’s office before interior doors allowing access to the rest of the building are unlocked.

The new two-story Hardy Elementary, which is set to open by September, will have a vestibule.

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The cost of upgrading all nine schools was estimated at $901,000 as of February when the project was listed among the School Board’s top priorities in its adopted capital improvement plan.

Isle of Wight County Schools Security and Emergency Management Specialist Jason Brinkley informed the School Board on June 8 that the vestibule project will begin this month.

The two schools, he said, were chosen for the simplicity of adding the extra set of doors to each building’s existing design, and for Carrsville’s remote location at the southern tip of the county, roughly 20 miles away from the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office.

Smithfield Middle School is also slated to receive a vestibule this summer.

In conjunction with the vestibules, Isle of Wight County Schools plans to reinstall interior door barricades in all nine schools by Aug. 31.

The school division spent $64,658 in 2018 to equip 718 doors across its nine schools with “Lockdown 1” barricades manufactured by the Michigan-based company Nightlock. The company markets the devices as being able to withstand 1,600 to 2,000 pounds of force during shelter-in-place events.

The school division removed the locks in 2019 after receiving an email from the Virginia Department of Education stating the devices “must be removed” due to potential conflicts with state fire code.

Brinkley, in March, told the School Board he’d contacted the State Fire Marshal’s Office and that IWCS “without a doubt” would be in compliance this time around.

“We have all the parts and pieces ordered now that we need to reinstall and reimplement the Nightlock system,” Brinkley said at the June 8 School Board meeting.