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Local schools enter new era of security vestibules

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By Debbie Bruell

Sopris Sun Correspondent

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When students enter Roaring Fork High School and Crystal River Elementary School for the first day of school next week, they’ll find an additional set of doors to walk through. The new doors are part of the recently constructed security vestibules at these schools.

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The construction of the vestibules was funded by the passage of last November’s bond issue for the Roaring Fork School District. When all the bond-funded projects are complete—which the district estimates will be sometime during the 2017-18 school year — all RFSD schools will have a security vestibule at their front entrance.

The vestibules at CRES and RFHS basically consist of a small area — defined by newly constructed walls and the new set of doors — just inside the front doors of each school. Within the vestibule is a “welcome window” connecting it to the front office. Visitors will be required to check in with a staff member at the front office before they can be “buzzed in” through the second set of doors.

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The first set of doors will remain open during the school day, allowing visitors to enter the building freely — but only as far as the security vestibule. The second set of doors will be unlocked just before and after school, allowing students to enter and exit the building freely. Shortly after the school day begins, the second set of doors will be locked.

As evidenced by the fact that the walls of the vestibules are only about eight feet high and do not go all the way to the ceiling, the goal of this security measure is not to make the schools impenetrable. Nor will there be any kind of metal detectors at the entrances. As Jeff Gatlin, the district’s chief operating officer, told The Sopris Sun, the goal is to ensure that school staff are aware of who is in the building at all times and ensure that no one has “quick access to the school.” If someone unwanted were to try to enter the school, Gatlin explained, “they’ll be noticed and there will be time to react.”

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The vestibules were designed by TAB, Associates, based in Edwards, Colorado. According to Gatlin, the plan for the design was dictated in part by the existing architecture of the school, in particular the high ceilings at the entrances of both schools. The vestibules in other schools may look somewhat different. Gatlin also explained that the vestibules were designed to maintain a welcoming feel at the schools.  

As CRES Principal Matt Koenigsknecht told The Sopris Sun, “We’re still the same welcoming school as always. We always want community members in our building… This (security vestibule) is just a way to ensure the safety of our kids, which is of utmost importance to us.” He noted that the new process for allowing visitors into the building will also ensure that all visitors are greeted and welcomed to the school as soon as they arrive.

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Some details of the security process are still being worked out, such as the possibility of keeping the doors of the vestibule unlocked during the lunch hour at RFHS and during after-school or evening events, and the timing for when the doors of the side entrance at RFHS (near the large gyms) will remain unlocked.

Other safety measures that have been added include magnetic sensors on all exterior doors (to ensure that doors are not being propped open and are fully closed and locked), card readers for staff, and an emergency call button that will lock all exterior doors and trigger alarms throughout the building.

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Now that the security vestibules are complete, the next large bond-funded project for Carbondale schools is to remodel Carbondale Middle School to create more flexible and multifunctional learning spaces.

Published in The Sopris Sun on August 18, 2016.

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