The Times West Virginian

June 4, 2013

W.Va. authority OKs school safety measures

Associated Press

SPRING MILLS — New schools built in West Virginia will be required to have shatter-proof glass and exterior door alarms.

The requirements are among several safety measures approved Monday by the West Virginia School Building Authority during a meeting at Spring Mills Primary School in Berkeley County, media outlets reported.

Other changes require new schools to have separate visitor entrance and waiting areas. Administrative offices must have a direct line of sight to a school’s parking lot.

“We want the office to be situated in such a way that the secretary and those in the front office will have that necessary line of sight clear to the parking lot — to help see when an individual is walking up. In the Newtown incident, it took less than nine minutes to open up the door, shoot out the window and then commit that horrendous deed. But a line of sight will allow this kind of weaponry to be seen; at least we hope it will,” SBA Executive Director Mark Manchin said, referring to last year’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Common areas such as the cafeteria will be separated from the main entrance and administrative offices by doors that can be closed and mechanically locked from the office area. Similar doors will separate common spaces from academic spaces.

The door alarms will sound when a door is ajar. The goal is to discourage staff and students from propping a door open with wedges or other items.

“Almost every school we go to, someone has put a wooden wedge or a rock in a door to keep it open. But that has to stop, since it is an open passage to an intruder,” Scott Raines, the SBA’s director of architectural services, told the authority by telephone.

The revised policy also requires installation of video monitoring software that will allow administrative staff to monitor the school.

Manchin said a project to digitally map each classroom in all 55 counties in the state is nearing completion.