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Bless all of our hearts. When did we all lose ourselves and become hateful, angry, argumentative people with no respect...

Secure corridors under construction at 13 schools

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Matt Johnson, left, points at one of the secure corridor blueprints during a Pitt County Board of Education work session in in 2018. The creation of secure front corridors is ongoing for 13 of the district's schools.

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By Amber Revels-Stocks
Staff Writer

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

When Pitt County Schools reopen to students this fall, it will be with enhanced safety measures.

Thirteen schools across Pitt County are receiving secure corridors over the summer, including Farmville and Ayden middle schools, Creekside, Ridgewood and W.H. Robinson elementary schools and Wintergreen Primary and Intermediate schools.

“(Secure corridors) are underway. We’ve started a lot of demolition at several schools," said Matt Johnson, the assistant superintendent of operations for Pitt County Schools. "We’ve actually started some of the block work and installed the door frames at several schools."

Johnson said the construction projects still have a long way to go.

“We have nine weeks left but right now they’re going well," he said. "We’ve actually started pulling some wire for the access control on the doors. We’re trying to get some preliminary work done ahead of time so when the doors are ready, we’re ready.”

Secure corridors mean visitors and late students have to be buzzed into the building and sign in with the school’s secretary, who is located behind glass.

The system takes a photo of the person for the school’s records. People cannot get through a second doorway into the school without being let in by a faculty or staff member.

Staff can get into the school using badges that are read by a card reader.

“You cannot get past the secure corridor without a badge or key,” Johnson said.

Most schools already are using card readers to get their staff familiar with them.

“We have a front door buzz-in at every school in the county (right now), including our schools with open campuses,” Johnson said.

Secure corridors also require visitors to carry a government issued ID, so front office staff can identify them. The RAPTOR system can pull information, such as custody issues and who is allowed to remove children from school.

“If we can do a background check of any visitor that steps foot on that campus, the better prepared we’ll be to serve our students and staff," Johnson said. "We’ll understand if this person can’t come on campus where before you might not know."

Work on the secure corridors is expected to be completed by Aug. 15, when faculty reports to school for the 2019-20 school year.

“That gives us a little bit of time before all the students come back to have a little bit of training for our staff," Johnson said. "As things change, you have to retrain on how the building is entered and exited.

“This will put us at 26 sites throughout the district, which is a huge advantage that we’ve been aiming for a long time," he said.

While Pitt County Schools does not want district schools to feel like prisons, it does want to make sure the community feels safe, Johnson said.

“It really is the times we live in," he said. "Just like (active assailant and lockdown training), we’re not doing this because we have a gun problem, but because we have a society problem.

“This is just one more way the school system is trying to protect the students and staff," Johnson said. "It’s just one more step that we’ve taken security-wise to tight up security on our campuses.”

Once work is completed, only 10 schools in the district will not have secure corridors. Construction on corridors for those schools is expected to begin in the fall.

“We’ll be working with each site that we have to do during the school year to try to minimize disruption to the school day,” Johnson said. “Once we finish those, we’ll be complete throughout the district, which is a tremendous advantage.”

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