A project to make Amherst County Public Schools more safe by adding vestibules is making progress and should be complete in seven schools by Aug. 14, the first day of school, according to division officials.
The vestibules serve as barriers in school entrances that ensure all visitors enter a main office area to interact with school staff before getting access to the school. The installation work includes Amelon, Amherst, Central, Elon and Temperance elementary schools, the Amherst Education Center and Monelison Middle School.
Amherst County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent William Wells said the division anticipates work beginning at Madison Heights Elementary and Monelison Middle schools this fall. Those two schools and Amherst County High School are more in-depth projects because of their layout and other factors.
The security measures also include replacement of doors in schools to make them more secure. Wells said work on the doors is expected in September and should be completed by January.
The county’s sale of the former Pleasant View Elementary, which closed in 2017, for $250,000 last year secured money for the security upgrades.
Superintendent Rob Arnold said the vestibules are important because they restrict free access among visitors in schools and lead them directly to the main office.
“While Amherst County Public Schools values and welcomes visitors, it is important that office personnel have a face-to-face conversation with all visitors to verify identification and reason for visit,” Arnold said. “Parents should understand that we value the safety of their students and any inconvenience created is done in the best interest of the student.”
Arnold encourages visitors and parents to have patience as each school works out its procedure for admitting visitors into the building.
Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.