JAMES CITY COUNTY, Va. — Safety and security remain a key goal for Williamsburg- James City County schools.
All but six of the 16 schools in the division have vestibules at its entrances. The school board recently voted on a contract to improve security at the remaining six schools, meaning all 16 will have the improvements.
This is all part of an ongoing division-wide project to add an extra layer of security at schools that were built before vestibules were used in the school division.
The school division already has several safety measures in place at its schools, including security cameras, school resource officers, and computer-based visitor sign-in.
One parent started a petition for Warhill High School to get metal detectors after a student brought a gun to school back in May.
Savanah Briggs' daughter goes to James River Elementary School, one of the six schools without an updated entryway.
She said one of the first things she considered when choosing her child's school was security. Briggs is happy to see the school division put safety at the top of their priorities list.
“I think it's a good idea in today's society with everything that's been going in schools,” Briggs said. “I think our schools are taking a strong look on their safety policies, and it's a really good idea.”
These projects were approved in the FY19 CIP. This project would provide secure vestibules at Toano Middle School, Lafayette High School, Berkeley Middle School, Laurel Lane Elementary School, Stonehouse Elementary School, and James River Elementary School. This will complete the division’s entrance redesign project.
The scope of work includes construction of a new securely contained vestibule comprised of an aluminum storefront glazing system with secure door hardware.
An Invitation for Bid (IFB) was issued on July 24, 2019, with a due date of August 20, 2019. Notice of the IFB was posted on James City County Bulletin Board, emailed to Contractors, and placed on the James City County and Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools websites.
Four vendors responded to the bid. Of these, TST was the lowest and most responsive with a combined bid of $359,650.81.
In addition to the entry vestibules, some of the general safety measures in place throughout WJCC Schools include the following:
- All WJCC Schools have security cameras throughout the building which can be accessed remotely by local law enforcement agencies.
- Each middle and high school has a school resource officer (SRO) who is a sworn law enforcement officer assigned to the building. These SROs also available to visit or respond to the neighboring elementary schools as needed.
- Middle and high schools have school division staff who serve as security officers. These school security officers take part in training offered by the Department of Criminal Justice Services.
- As part of the State’s school safety protocol, crisis plans are reviewed and updated, as needed, every summer. There is also a threat assessment protocol that is reviewed annually with appropriate staff such as school counselors, teachers, security personnel, and school administrators.
- Every school has a buzzer entry system for visitors and card key access for staff members.
- All WJCC schools use a computer-based visitor sign-in system that checks visitor IDs against sex offender databases nationwide.