WS/FCS makes changes to safety protocols, add metal detectors for large events

District leaders demonstrate how metal detectors will work on Tuesday, August 23. Every middle and high school in the district will have access to two metal detectors.

WS/FCS makes changes to safety protocols, add metal detectors for large events
August 24
20:45 2022

All local middle and high schools will have access to metal detectors this school year, but they will only be used at big events and not during the average school day, according to district leaders. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WS/FCS) has also adopted a new crisis response model and installed keypad entry at larger schools with multiple buildings. 

District leaders met with the media at East Forsyth High School earlier this week to discuss the metal detectors and some of the other safety protocol changes. 

The metal detectors were made available through a School Safety Grant awarded to the district. Every middle and high school will each have two portable metal detectors. Jonathan Wilson, chief security officer, said the metal detectors will only be used at large events like football games and basketball games. He said the metal detectors will only be used in the school if there is a credible threat. 

“Those are to be predominately at large events, it could be football or basketball, it could be a large play or some other event,” Wilson said. “And that is in addition to our wanding that we have used for years.” 

Wilson said he hopes the metal detectors are used more as a preventative measure and they don’t find anything. “Our hope is that we put these out and we never find anything,” he continued. 

“Our hope is that if someone has something in their pocket and they see we’re doing this, they turn around and go back to the car and secure whatever it is.” 

The new response model adopted by the district comes from the I Love U Guys Foundation’s Standard Response Protocol, which focuses on five different terms that can be used in any event: hold, secure, lockdown, evacuate, and shelter. “No matter what happens, we can use those five terms and everyone within the community should know what those terms mean,” Wilson added. 

The keypad entry system was included in the 2016 bond projects approved by voters. The system gives school leaders the ability to control who comes into the school and students will use their student ID numbers to access different buildings throughout the school day. The new entry systems have already been installed at elementary schools throughout the district. 

“It was important that we got to our high schools because those are our largest campuses and those are always the hardest areas to secure,” Wilson said 

When discussing the security changes, Wilson said he hopes it puts students, teachers and parents at ease. 

“Parents always reach out to us and say, what are you doing to keep our students safe? What kind of plans are you putting in place? So I hope that this puts their mind at ease and they see what steps we’re taking,” Wilson said. 

Rusty Hall, principal at East Forsyth, said as a principal he feels ensuring safety is his most important job and he was grateful for the changes. 

“It’s (safety) always on the front of our minds, regardless of what’s going on locally or nationally.  It’s always something that we’re thinking through, we’re monitoring, we’re looking for gaps and things to improve that process,” Hall said. “Overwhelmingly, anything that we put in place, even when it may cause an inconvenience for our parents and our families, it’s appreciated. Ninety-nine percent of the responses we get have been positive and we appreciate that.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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