Visitors to most Sioux Falls public schools now have to buzz their way into the building. The latest security measures going into place district-wide include an intercom and camera posted at the front door.
The security upgrades are not in response to any specific threat. Horace Mann was one of the first schools in the city to get the monitoring system this past spring. And there's been a bit of a learning curve for parents coming to get their kids during the school day.
School bells aren't the only dinging you'll hear in the hallways. A camera lens keeps an unblinking lookout at the front entrance of Horace Mann Elementary.
"To make sure that the people coming in are people that should be in our building," Principal Tara Eckstaine said.
Even the mailman has to get buzzed-in. The video hookup allows the front office staff to see everyone in the entryway.
"And we actually look on our monitors and if we recognize them we push the buttons and let them right in and if not, we have them identify themselves," Eckstaine said.
A sign on the front door alerts visitors to the security change. But some parents don't notice right away.
"And it was locked and then I got told to push the button to come in," parent Briana Vega said.
"At first, we'd see someone tugging on the door and we would push the monitor and say can we help you," Eckstaine said.
All this buzzing throughout the day is not a distraction or a disruption to the school staff.
"The more that our monitors ding, the more involvement that we have so we really welcome that parent involvement," Eckstaine said.
After someone gets buzzed in, they have to report straight to the front office where they sign in and pick up their visitor badge.
"Oftentimes, if parents forget, we just gently remind them, hey, can we have you sign in here," Eckstaine said.
Parents say the added surveillance isn't an intrusion. To them, it's all about peace of mind.
"I think it's really safe. It's good to know that you're going to be questioned when you come into a school, not anyone can walk in here," Vega said.
The camera at the front door is adjustable so the school staff can get a good look at every visitor's face. The camera can also record video images of the person.