OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – The Ogden School District is upgrading security features at its schools as a continued effort to keep students safe. Close to half of the district’s schools now have video doorbells that allow office staff to screen visitors before they enter the school. Soon, eight more schools will have this feature implemented on campus as well.
“I know everyone is doing everything they can to protect our kids,” Jennilyn Merkley told ABC4. Merkley has a child in the first grade and attends school in Ogden.
“I know for the teachers and the staff here (that) his safety is their number one priority,” Merkley stated.
For Odyssey Elementary School Principal Dr. Dana Nolan, that’s exactly how she hopes all parents feel. She told ABC4, “My number one job is to ensure the safety of your students. Next, once we know we’re safe, then we get on to the business of teaching and learning.”
Currently, visitors must stop at the office and check in at Odyssey, however, that process will soon change.
“Unfortunately, in the climate and society that we live in today, there have been incidents at schools and that’s on every parent, and grandparent, and aunt and uncle, every family member’s mind is how is my child will be safe in school,” said Nolan.
In the coming weeks, Nolan’s school will follow the lead of eight others in the district. Visitors will only have access after being buzzed in by office staff.
Liberty Elementary School is one of the eight to already have this practice in place. Visitors can only enter the school through the main doors. In the foyer, visitors are greeted with a video doorbell. Office staff may ask to see some form of identification if they do not recognize the visitor as a parent of one of the students. When a staff member buzzes the visitor in, he or she will have access to the main office rather than access straight into the school.
“Never,” Nolan said. “You can never be too safe.” The district already has many safety protocols in place. For instance, Nolan’s school may not have the video doorbell installed yet, but visitors only have access to the office through the main doors. All other doors on campus remain locked from the outside during school hours.
Nolan told ABC4 she believes Odyssey Elementary belongs to a safe community. From neighbors notifying the school of any suspicious activity, to parents being actively involved in their children’s education, she knows her students are safe. However, she says there is always room for improvement and is thankful for the district’s decision to implement the secure entry system across its schools.
Jennilyn Merkley said, “I’m not ever worried about my student coming to school. I know he’ll be safe and enjoy his time here.” While Merkley believes her child is safe as a student in the Ogden School District, she is also grateful for the addition of video doorbells at schools. She added, “I think that’s an excellent idea to ensure our students’ safety. I am happy that the district has made that a priority for us.”
After the remaining eight schools have the entry system installed, two will remain without. A spokesperson told ABC4 those schools are high schools, and due to logistics, it would be impossible to implement the system at those schools. That’s not to say there aren’t other security measures already in place.