Security has been tightened at schools in the Bethel School District for the start of the 2013-14 school year.
During school hours, all school doors will be locked, and access will only be available through the main entrances.
Parents and other visitors will have to press a buzzer outside the building. Inside, school staff will use a camera and intercom to identify visitors before letting them in
District officials sought the new system after an assessment of Bethel schools’ security in the wake of the mass shooting of students and staff member at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. last December.
The new system, which Bethel School Board members approved July 23, is an attempt to make schools safer from potential threats and intruders, officials said.
The district, with an enrollment of about 18,000 students, is the 14th-largest in Washington. It has 17 elementary schools, six middle schools, three comprehensive high schools and an alternative high school.
Classes for the new school year begin today. Besides the heightened security, students and staff will be involved in the first full year of the district’s middle school realignment.
Last October, the School Board approved adding sixth grade to grades seven and eight in middle school, effective with the start of the 2013-14 school year. The change. which officials believe will help prevent elementary schools from becoming overcrowded in the next four years, affects the middle schools – Bethel, Frontier, Cedarcrest, Cougar Mountain, Liberty and Spanaway– and the elementary schools.
(Read more in the Sept. 4 print edition of The Dispatch)