Gov. Gary Herbert stopped by Rose Springs Elementary School for lunch on the second day of school.
But just like any other visitor to Rose Springs, the governor had to push an outside doorbell and be cleared by the office before the doors were unlocked to let him in.
Herbert was in Tooele County Wednesday to see a demonstration of Rose Springs Elementary’s new security doors and to meet with Tooele County School District counselors to listen to their experiences with school safety and mental health.
“Parents expect schools to be a safe place when they send their children to school,” Herbert said. “And teachers expect to have a safe environment to teach in.”
The Rose Spring Elementary cafeteria was full of students eating lunch when the governor arrived.
After being buzzed in through the front door, Herbert traveled around the lunchroom. He shook hands with each student before he sat down at a table with some students and ate lunch.
While eating, Herbert asked the students about their goals and aspirations for the future.
After lunch, Herbert joined a group of reporters and school staff in the foyer for a presentation on the school’s new security system, a system he helped acquire for the school.
Won-Door Corporation, a Salt Lake City-based manufacturer of horizontal sliding fire doors, offered to donate the installation of a sliding door security system for a school in the state.
Herbert recommended the Tooele County School District and local school district officials suggested Rose Springs Elementary, according to Scott Rogers,Tooele County School District Superintendent.
“Rose Springs is very visible and easy to access for people coming from out of the county that want to see the security system,” he said.
The security system starts at the front door. Once school starts, all exterior doors are locked. Visitors are directed to push a doorbell button by the front door. A security camera allows office staff to see the person at the door and talk to them before they are given access to the school.
If there is a concern, with the push of a button, sliding doors shut off access to interior hallways from the foyer.
“You can’t shoot or kick your way through these doors and there are no locks to shoot out,” said Ron Smart, president of Won-Door.
A second level of security doors secures all outside doors and a third level of doors blocks interior passageways.
“From time to time, we get reports from law enforcement about something going on in the neighborhood outside of a school,” Rogers said. “Being able to quickly secure the outside doors during a lockdown like that will keep students safe, while the normal classroom activity can continue.”
When the doors are open they are hidden inside recessed pockets, keeping the school from looking like a fortress, according to Rogers.
Once the doors are shut, they can be opened from the office or by a key card. They are designed not to close on people and each door can be monitored from the office.
Rose Springs Elementary has 15 of the sliding doors, 24 security cameras, and 24 card readers.
The system was installed in 30 days at a cost of $600,000, according to Steve West, Tooele County School District operations director.
“But all the school district paid for was the 24 cameras,” West said. “Won-Door, Big D Construction, and Hunt Electric donated the labor and materials for everything else.”
The contractors worked a lot of overtime to get the system in by the time school started. A regular retrofit would cost less without the overtime, according to West.
Including the sliding doors in new construction would cost even less as the sliding doors would replace traditional fire doors and there would be no demolition work to create the pockets for the doors, he added.
“We can now see how the system works in this school before we look at installing all or part of the system in other schools,” Rogers said.
The Tooele County School District isn’t relying solely on physical safety features to improve school climate and safety, according to Rogers.
Herbert also heard about the school district’s social-emotional skills curriculum, promotion of the Safe UT app, elementary school counselors, and other behavioral and mental health programs.
“It’s not just about doors and cameras,” Rogers said. “It’s about meeting the needs of students and creating a safe environment for them.”
Herbert was accompanied by Reps. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy and Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville.