Tighter security is now in place at all three high schools within the Sioux Falls School District. Construction crews are wrapping up a summer-long upgrade to the entrance at Washington High School. Washington students face a security learning curve when they return to class in just a week-and-a-half.
The main entrance at Washington High School went through a growth spurt over the summer.
"Everything on that side going out and over is brand new," Washington High School Principal Jamie Nold said.
Construction crews widened the entrance to make room for a reception area where visitors will check in. Those visitors will then go into a waiting room before getting buzzed into the building. From now on, the doors leading into the commons will always be locked. Another layer of security to ensure that students stay safe.
"There's not been issues that way, but obviously, we want to be proactive on it, so I think it's a great step forward," Nold said.
The Sioux Falls School District has been upgrading security at all of its buildings. Washington counselor Patti Lake-Torbert has both a professional and personal reason for liking the changes.
"I'm a parent of a senior and a freshman here at Washington High School and I appreciate as a parent that people are not going to be able to walk in the school and possibly get past this commons area. There's going to be somebody who stops them immediately and say how can we help you out," Lake-Torbert said.
Washington is the final Sioux Falls public high school to get the security upgrades. The principal is fine with being last.
"It worked out well this summer. There are fewer things going on within the school this summer so it actually made it easier this summer compared to some others where we maybe had some groups to utilize the building throughout the whole summer," Nold said.
While construction wasn't a disruption over the summer, students on-the-go this fall will see changes to their daily routines.
"Because the students are used to being able to, when they're going out to senior open-lunch or they're leaving going to the Career Tech Academy, they're used to just in-out, freedom to come and go," Nold said.
Now, students who leave the building will have to show their ID's at the door when they return. Part of the tradeoff of bringing more security into school.
Nold says the upgrades not only boost security, they're also good public relations. The reception area allows school staff to personally welcome each visitor.
Crews also updated the entrance at Roosevelt High School this summer.