Parkersburg High School continues to improve safety, security

A security guard stands in a booth at the entrance to Parkersburg High School’s back parking lot. The school now has two guards, with the second being just inside the front doors of PHS, to help provide security for the school, students and staff. (Photo by Michael Erb)

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg High School is making several security upgrades this semester as part of an ongoing process to make the campus more secure.

Two security guards have been hired and a new secure entranceway is being built to better control who comes into the building and onto campus, said Principal Kenny DeMoss. The latest steps are part of an effort to provide a safe place for students and staff as well as peace of mind for parents.

“It’s been an evolving process and we’re still looking at ways to make students and parents feel safer on campus,” he said.

DeMoss said the school has added several safety features over the years, from cameras and remotely-controlled doors to student and staff identification badges. The security guards are paid for through the school’s Local School Improvement Council Funds.

The guards are not armed but carry radios which allow them to communicate on the school’s administration band. One sits just inside the front doors of the school to check IDs and direct visitors to the offices. Another is placed in a mobile booth at the entrance of the school’s back parking lot.

A new entryway will be located to the right of Parkersburg High School’s traditional main entrance and all visitors will go through a secure entrance before being allowed into the school. (Photo by Michael Erb)

“Unless you’re a student or staff, you’re not going to be able to go into that parking lot,” DeMoss said. “We had people cutting through there. We had parents who would drop things off at a student’s car, and really if they need to drop something off they should be doing it at the office.”

Parkersburg High still has a full-time Prevention Resource Officer, and the guards are not intended to interact with the students, but rather to deal with people coming to visit the school.

“They use their presence as a deterrent for people that aren’t supposed to be here,” DeMoss said. “They’re not here for the students, it’s really about the non-students, non-staff who might come to the school.”

The security guards were approved through the Wood County Schools superintendent’s office and the program will be evaluated at the end of the school year.

“This is a trial run to see how it works,” DeMoss said, but “I’m wanting to do it again next year. So far it’s been really good.”

Security will be further improved after completion of the school’s secured entrance, which will be to the right of the main doors. Once completed, all traffic will be directed through that office.

The secured entrance, also referred to as a “mantrap,” consists of two sets of doors which can be locked and opened remotely and a waiting area in between. A window will allow office staff to see and talk to anyone in the waiting area, and DeMoss said in many instances a person wouldn’t need to be let into the main building.

“If a parent is coming to pick up a student, they can wait right there,” he said.

Michael Erb can be reached at merb@newsandsentinel.com.