Metal detectors installed at Escambia County school, changes coming to rest of district

Metal detectors installed at Escambia County school, changes coming to rest of district

One school in Escambia County has some expensive new merchandise aimed at keeping students safe.

Every morning before school starts, about 300 students and staff walk through newly installed metal detectors at Beulah Academy of Science.

The machines cost about $3,700 each, but Principal Sherry Bailey told Channel 3 News you can't put a price on the safety of her students - students like 8th grader, Stormie Nelson.

"They're pretty loud," said Nelson.

The metal detectors were installed two weeks ago. At first, it was a bit of a learning curve for students and staff. Now, it's a streamlined process.

"I step off the bus and then I go through the doors," said Nelson. "I put down anything that will buzz on the table and then I walk through the metal detectors and grab my binder and then go into the school then go to class."

If the buzzer does go off, school staff search student's belongings.

"They have gloves on and they just check my book bag and see what's in there," said Nelson.

So far, the "worst" item staff has found is an inhaler that hadn't been checked in with the school nurse.

Although the school falls under the Escambia County School District, Beulah Academy of Science is a charter school, which allows them to implement different policies and procedures - like the metal detectors.

As for the rest of the district, Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said there are changes coming.

"Metal detection and a number of other security measures are being considered," said Thomas. "The district will be making adjustments over the next few weeks and months."

This week, the district released a list of recommendations students, parents and the community should follow if security has been elevated at a school campus. Thomas said elevated security does not mean there is an active situation inside.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time we are trying to determine what's going on in the community," said Thomas. "Or we're chasing a rumor."

The bottom line, Thomas said, is don't panic and rush to the school.

"If I have a situation where I need emergency vehicles and first responders, you're in the way quite frankly," said Thomas. "We need the parking lot and all of that available. If I need an ambulance, I need the ambulance to get to the front door of the school."

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