Back to school security upgrades for WSFCS

FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools spent the summer finishing more than $600,000 in security upgrades at the district’s 43 elementary schools.

Each school now has eight security cameras with some wired to support more. The district says these improvements will help keep children safe.

“Knowing the cameras are here is always going to deter some of the things that can possibly happen,” said Old Town Elementary School Principal Rusty Hall.

It’s an effort that started last spring as WSFCS began installing cameras at the front entrance to each of its elementary schools.

All visitors must now ring a buzzer to get inside elementary schools, ensuring doors stay locked and preventing people from being able to walk in unnoticed.

“My daughter goes to school in Forsyth County,” said Hall. “And I feel more secure knowing that you have to go through the front office.”

Theo Helm, director of marketing and communications for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, says the district’s new security cameras are accessible by law enforcement officers from any remote computer.

The security software also allows officers to access digital floor plans.

“One of the things our board was clear about after the shootings in Sandy Hook, was that they wanted to see what they could do to improve school safety,” said Helm. “But they also wanted to make sure it was effective and not just something for show.”

WSFCS says the new cameras will be useful beyond any major emergency situations; the cameras could help solve disputes between students and settle disciplinary issues as the footage is recorded and stored for later viewing.

The school district also spent $30,000 this summer to number each of its elementary classroom windows with stickers that allow administrators and officers to quickly identify rooms from the outside of buildings, in the event of an any emergencies.

More than a dozen new portable radios were added to elementary schools as well.

“At a time when we’re having to cut people and positions, $600,000 can pay for a lot of staff,” said Helm. “So, that’s a balance we’re trying to navigate while at the same time make sure people are as safe as possible.”

Davidson County Schools says it also added new security cameras at schools across the district.

DCS wouldn’t disclose an exact number or say which schools. Crisis plans were also updated.

In Guilford and Rockingham Counties, educators received crisis and safety training over the summer.

WS/FCS tells FOX8 its currently exploring adding the same camera systems to all of its middle schools and high schools.

“Whether you’re a parent or just somebody who cares about the community; you want your schools to be as safe as possible,” said Helm.

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