New safety protocol causes long lines, frustration at Henrico High Schools

Increased security measures at Henrico County Public Schools are leading to increased stress in the mornings, according to countless parents and students.
Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 6:27 PM EDT
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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - Increased security measures at Henrico County Public Schools lead to increased morning stress, according to countless parents and students.

HCPS launched brand new weapons detection systems that students, staff, and visitors must walk through daily to attend class.

Students say these new scanners are causing long lines, making many people late for class.

“The line was really long, and we had to wait a long time,” Godwin High School senior Briggs Nance said.

“It’s just really annoying overall,” Godwin Senior Berkley Nance said.

When HCPS leaders demonstrated the new system a few weeks ago, they said delays would be unlikely.

Now, several pictures and videos taken by students at Godwin High School show the opposite.

“It really sets the tone of the day off bad mentally,” Godwin Junior Roman Bernard said. “I have to set my day a little earlier, too, getting there a little earlier, eating breakfast a little earlier.”

75% of HCPS families supported adding weapons scanners to schools after a series of gun scares last school year.

However, students say the machines are susceptible and react to regular school supplies, causing students to be subject to searches.

“Typically, it’s three-ring binders, computers, Hydroflasks, everything though,” Briggs said.

“Every day is just taxing on everybody,” Bernard said.

Berkley and Briggs Nance say scanner troubles are making them late for class.

So far, teachers are letting it slide.

“I’d say if you’re lucky, you get in five minutes after class starts,” Briggs said. “But I’ve seen kids get in as late as 9:25.″

Glen Allen High School acknowledged the delays and, as a result, made some adjustments. In a letter to families, the principal said it would move the scanners to another entrance and open the building earlier.

All three Godwin students say they think removing the daily screening requirement would be a better solution.

“Honestly, it’s just really frustrating to just have to do that,” Bernard said. “I understand why we have to do it. There was a tragedy that happened a little over a year ago,” and I think it is essential to have these precautions put in place, but I also think not having it every day is beneficial.”

Henrico County Public Schools Spokesperson Ken Blackstone acknowledged the issues in a statement:

“Regarding the weapons scanners, based on strong community support for such measures, all HCPS high schools welcomed students back with new weapon scanners at all entry points. However, as expected with such an adjustment, the new safety protocols did slow down arrivals. Each school sought to ensure all students and staff had time to become familiar and comfortable with the new process, ask questions and adjust to the new routines. The delays varied by school, but students arrived safely and efficiently made their way to their classrooms.

As we do each year, every school is reviewing arrival and dismissal procedures following the first day, including weapons scanners protocols and traffic patterns, and will be adjusting as needed to ensure the safety of all our students, families and staff. We appreciate the patience and understanding of our entire community as we embark on a new school year together!”