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Brainerd High School updates security measures

Students walk through the halls of Brainerd High School between classes. School administrators recently increased security measures in the building. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch file photo

New security features are in place at Brainerd High School starting Wednesday, Feb. 20.

All exterior doors on both the north and south BHS campuses will be locked until 7 a.m., six entrances will then be open for a time before doors are locked once more when classes start at 8:20 a.m.

High School Principal Andrea Rusk announced the changes in an email to parents, guardians and students Monday, Feb. 18, and the changes come a week after a high school staff member was attacked in a north campus girls' locker room about 6:30 a.m. Feb. 11. The staff member broke free from her attacker, and 20-year-old Jared Allen-Tristen McCormack faces three felony charges as a result of the of the alleged assault.

Equipment was installed to provide secure entrances during the school day, changing how students, parents and visitors enter the buildings. Visitors are now required to request access through a push-button monitor box at exterior doors. The button will notify a designated staff member of the access request. The staff member will be able to see visitors in a video image and will ask them to identify themselves and the nature of their visit. After being buzzed in, the visitor can enter the building and will be required to check in at the main office.

Rusk's email stated there will be access for student traffic between north and south campuses during periods in between classes.

"All students will need to limit movement between buildings, or they will need to use our door access system to be 'buzzed' in," the email reads.

Four secure entrance systems on the north campus are at the north (N), lower west (W), south (S) and east (main office) doors. On south campus, entrance systems are at the east (E3) and main office (N1) entrances.

"Please be aware these changes are necessary for safety and may not be convenient," Rusk wrote in her email.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Rusk said doors to the high school are now locked until 7 a.m., as opposed to being open whenever custodial staff got there previously. The four doors on north campus and two doors on south campus with the secure entrance systems will be open from 7 - 8:20 a.m., when classes start. All other doors will remain locked.

"We tried to look at student traffic. A lot of students get dropped off by parents, and (parents) work early or they have to drop other kids off at school," Rusk said. "We felt like 7 a.m. was a fair time we could manage the building."

Staff members will not be stationed at the doors during that unlocked time period but several staff members, custodians, administrators, food service and some teachers will be in the building, Rusk said.

Administration, she said, tried to come up with a security plan to allow staff and students—including part-time students—to move between the buildings while also limiting access to ensure safety.

"I think it's a good step in the right direction," Rusk said.

Theresa Bourke

I started at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and the Brainerd School District. I follow city and school board officials as they make important decisions for residents and students and decide how to spend taxpayer dollars. I look for feature story ideas among those I meet and enjoy, more than anything, helping individuals tell their stories and show what makes them unique.

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