A place where students are safe in expressing their stories
Nestled near the Appalachian trail in a bucolic town famous for spectacular leaf peeping, it’s easy to understand why many consider Connecticut’s Kent School an idyllic setting. Every fall, over 500 students from around the country and the world return there to start the academic year. Most of them live right on the coed campus. As peaceful and welcoming as its 1200 picturesque acres are, the school is vigilant and progressive about safety and security.
A sense of openness and belonging
Kent School provides students a productive atmosphere for cultivating academic excellence, the arts, spiritual growth, and athletic participation. As their website proclaims, it also sets high expectations “for acquiring skills to understand and respect different cultures, perspectives, and one another’s beliefs…(creating) an environment that embraces equity, inclusion, and diversity in all realms.”
In other words, it’s a place that opens its doors to all walks of life, where everyone feels safe in expressing themselves and in their surroundings.
Improving school safety and security
Like so many schools, Kent School used mechanical locks for years to secure buildings and rooms. But after the tragedy in nearby Newtown, the leadership of the private boarding institution took action to expedite additional safeguards. The urgency along with Kent’s love of innovation inspired the school to upgrade building security with new advanced solutions. First, they implemented an electronic card-based door lock technology. While it was an improvement, it didn’t connect to the campus network.
“We saw that having everything tied to a network would be a huge advantage because an online platform improves the ability to remotely monitor and manage activity assigned to a certain room,” says Jeffrey D. Cataldo, Associate Head of School, COO and CFO. “We also wanted to work with a leader in the field of access control who could advise us on how to extract as much value from their system as possible.”
That specification led right to ASSA ABLOY and the installation of the company’s IN120 Wi-Fi locks throughout the campus, including 250 dorm rooms. So how well do they work?
Improved efficiency, visibility and flexibility
The locks feature reader technology that gives the school the broadest flexibility in their card or mobile credential selection as well as the ability to leverage the existing Wi-Fi network to streamline installations.
Students can now easily enter and lock their dorm rooms with their assigned cards. If someone loses a card, campus employees can quickly disable it and issue a new one. “An online access control system provides unrivaled efficiency campus wide,” explains Cataldo. “And it gives us comprehensive control over who can enter which facilities and when.”
Staff can remotely monitor and manage locks via real-time alarms and see when external doors are locked as well as who has been denied entry to certain areas.
“For example, there’s no need for students to be in an academic building or other dormitories besides their own after 8 p.m. With this solution, we can easily turn off access to areas,” says Cataldo.
Flexibility also allows staff to authorize places like libraries to be open for special study hours outside of the normal school day.
Keeping students safe while ensuring privacy
Kent leadership put restrictions on faculty and staff cards, too. “This wasn’t in response to a problem,” says Cataldo. “It was proactive for the purpose of managing the campus in a safe and efficient manner.”
For instance, staff are only allowed to enter dorms during normal working hours, since the buildings are considered students’ homes. The same applies to academic buildings where they don’t have an office or official business. Intelligent scheduling and timestamped lock activity reporting also protects staff and student card holders from unwarranted suspicion.
Of course, in case of an emergency, the integrated solution allows campus security to unlock doors remotely at any time.
Smooth implementation process
Kent School began installation during the summer and needed to finish before school began again in the fall. “We are lucky to have a team of onsite electricians and other trained employees,” says Cataldo. “We were also able to rely on ASSA ABLOY and our factory certified integrator who provided consultation and helped us determine how the jobs would go. It was a smooth process from start to finish.”
And finish they did with time to spare as students, faculty and leaf-peepers flocked back for another beautiful season.