Clover Hill enhances building security

The new doors by the office, which add another layer of security

Zachary Burgess

The new doors by the office, which add another layer of security

As students return from winter break they find a surprise at the front office: a row of four brand new doors only meters in front of the identical row of doors at Door One. This addition begs the question, why do we need more doors? The doors are a part of an ongoing project to improve school security and student safety, not only at Clover Hill, but throughout the entire Chesterfield County Public School system.

After a Chesterfield County safety audit, multiple schools lacked vestibules at their main entrance, a small section that prevents visitors from entering the building without going through the office. Among these schools was Clover Hill.

Clover Hill principal John Phillips has worked with Chesterfield County to improve safety at the school by updating how the staff handles visitors.

“When we say safety, specifically it’s visitor management,” Phillips said. “It helps control the process of how people come into the building and where they go as an extra measure.”

This a large step in Clover Hill’s efforts to prevent any intruders from entering the building and to lower confusion among visitors in the school.

A major part of this effort is making the school single access, so that everyone entering the building can be managed at one entrance and guided appropriately.

“We are really trying to work hard to make the school single access,” Phillips said. “If you are a parent picking up a student from the clinic we like to have you go through Door 11 because that limits the non-staff adults that are walking throughout the building. We’re trying to manage that with consistent messaging home to families.”

It is a part of the campaign to get students and staff to not open doors for people they do not recognize.

The new poster covering door 11 is a one-way shield decorated in school colors. (Ben Schneider)

When people do inevitably show up at doors other than the main entrance, mainly at Door 11 where students enter, Clover Hill has developed a protocol for redirecting people and maintaining secure entrances.

“At Door 11, there’s always a teacher or someone down there at the visitor management system,” Phillips said. “Unless they recognize them and know them by name, they have a script that makes them state their business here. It is a little extra layer.”

Safety and order are both Clover Hill’s and Chesterfield County’s aims in these new improvements.

While there are no specific plans for upcoming security advancements, it still remains at the top of Clover Hill’s priority, as they continue to develop future improvements.

“We’re definitely not done with assessing the building, trying to figure how we can make the school safer and harder to access for people who shouldn’t be here or are not sure where to go,” Phillips said.

  The doors are a part of a variety of measures to increase school safety and ensure a controlled environment for students, teachers, and administrators. 

Last year, the camera system at Clover Hill was updated from the outdated CCTV to IP, a secure, network based system that stores footage for longer and increases the schools access and lowers the schools response time to events of concern.

“So the camera system now is much, much better,” Phillips said. “It’s not an antiquated system. And now we’ve got 180 degree views. We’ve got a couple of 360 cameras, still not perfect, but much, much better.”

In addition to the new doors in the office, the windows on Door 11 and 10 are now covered from the outside with posters that designate both the number and purpose of the entrance to reduce confusion. These posters also eliminate the ability of anyone outside the building to see inside. However, the outside is still visible from inside the buildings, allowing staff and security officials to monitor who is walking in while increasing the privacy of students and staff inside.