Increased safety measures have been implemented at the three elementary school buildings within the Chillicothe R-2 School District, per a Textcaster email sent out last Wednesday from Field School Principal Philip Pohren, and a letter sent home to Dewey School parents from Principal Abby Smith.

"The elementary buildings in the Chillicothe R-2 District have installed buzzer-style door systems at each of their main entrance points," Pohren said, in the email message sent out in the late afternoon hours of Jan. 16.

It was announced that Dewey's front (west) side doorway will be considered their entrance point, that the east side entrance will continue to be used at Field, and that Central School's access point will be the west side door. These doorways will be the only ones open to visitors of the mentioned schools.

Said "buzzer-style" system is based upon the one implemented and used by Central School for most of this current school year (2012-13), and will be located at each of the aforementioned entry points.

"Outside... you will find a black box mounted to the brick wall," Pohren directed. "Please push the button to send a signal to the office. You will be greeted over the intercom and then 'buzzed' into the building."

These black boxes each contain a small camera connected to a monitor window that allows office staff to view and speak with who they are about to allow onto the premises prior to unlocking the doors.

Bishop Hogan Memorial School and Garrison Preschool both use doorbell systems at their entranceways.

Doorways will be locked at Field and Dewey schools from 8:05 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. on school days. At both Field and Dewey, the entry points will be open between 7:30 and 8:05 a.m. They will then re-open from 2:45 to 3:30 p.m., as school is getting out.

"All other doors will remain locked, except for one playground door," Pohren said, of Field. "It will only be unlocked when students are on the playground."

Smith said that all other doors except for the west side entrance will be locked at Dewey, no exceptions.

Over at Central School, the same initial opening time applies, as well. However, the second school day open-door time varies, as does the re-locking, depending upon when students are dismissed from classes and if they are participating in after-school club activities, office secretary Kathy Midgyett said. She also noted that Central had sent out their letters regarding the new buzzer system at the beginning of the school year.

A common motif in the letters sent out is an emphasis upon teaching students that they are not allowed to open any locked doors for visitors.

"[They] will, instead, be directed to ask a teacher or staff member to help," Smith said. "As a reminder, all visitors to our building need to check-in at the office and either be given a Visitor ID Badge or plan to be escorted."

The same is true for Field and Central, as well as the other buildings across the Chillicothe R-2 School District.

"The safety of our students is a primary concern," said Pohren.