New safety features in place at Seaside Elementary as kids return to school
Features include having a button that locks all doors to bulletproof glass windows
Seaside Park Elementary School is a brand new school that has introduced cutting-edge safety features to keep students safe and sets the standard for district buildings in the future.
"I would say it's so positive these features already come with the school, whereas with our older buildings we're trying to add cameras, we're trying to add buzz-in systems," said Zoë Watson, superintendent of Anglophone South School District.
"It's always more difficult and challenging to implement these things when the building is already there."
One safety feature students might not have noticed on their first day was the arrangement of dark-coloured tiles on classroom floors, which appear to be part of its design.
But if students are standing in this area, they can't be seen by a potential intruder in the hallway.
Jim Connors, facilities manager for the district, said not even Chris Saunders Memorial Elementary School in Quispamsis — built just two years ago — has the feature.
"This is something that's certainly new for us," Watson said.
Watson said safety features were designed through a board made up of both parents and staff who set the standards.
Safety comes first
Likewise, if a person comes to the front door, a secretary needs to hit a button to open it.
A window does peer into the front office but contains bulletproof glass.
Someone at the front desk can also hit a button and all the fire doors across the building will automatically close and lock.
This can be programmed to lock once the students are inside and only open at designated times, like recess.
"In other schools, if they want to have the exterior doors locked, there would be an Allen key that someone would have to go around [with] and actually do that," the superintendent said.
Every angle of the hallways are also visible through cameras, Connors said.
"All the hallways are monitored," he said. "We have an angle from every corner."
Simple design, plays big part
Last week, the school had their first fire drill and the 500 kids were evacuated within three minutes, Connors said.
While the building, which cost more than $20 million and is an amalgamation of Seawood, St. Patrick's and Havelock schools, is new all the way through, a lot of its safety upgrades came from simple planning.
The safety precautions range from active, such as having the button that locks all the doors, to proactive, such as keeping all the facilities that community members would use in one area — preventing strangers from roaming the halls.
There are also separate lanes for buses and regular vehicles so drivers don't get impatient.
"This is a state-of-the-art building," Watson said.
"Safety for the school district is always a number one priority."