Proximity cards absent from student wallets


Emily Franke

Months after teachers received proximity cards, Principal Dr. Jennifer Rukstad plans to meet with the CPS administrators March 18 to revisit the topic of cards for students.
Dr. Rukstad said student cards cost more than staff cards, and a tight budget caused delays.
“The plan was hatched last summer. The earliest they expected student proximity cards was probably second semester,” Dr. Rukstad said. “Everything about this system came post budget, so [the district] had to move money around in the budget just to get the cameras put in and the buzzer doors.”
In November after the installation of the buzz-in system, CPS issue proximity cards to teachers. These cards would replace keys to the exterior doors, assistant principal Brian Gaub said at the time.
A teacher approached Dr. Rukstad wondering about when students would receive their proximity cards, and Dr. Rukstad emailed the district with a reminder that RBHS would like to have the cards. During first semester Dr. Rukstad said district personnel suggested RBHS might not need student proximity cards.
However, for receptionist Annette Renwick, student proximity cards are a future necessity.
“I know some of the students get frustrated and … all they say just [is] ‘Let me in,’” Renwick said. “It is hard when the phone is ringing, and I’ve got visitors coming in, and I’m pushing the button and trying to figure out what to say. That’s probably the hardest part of my job.”
Renwick said when students receive their personal cards, opening doors will become much safer. Her greatest concern is for students who open the doors for strangers, who then enter the building unverified.
“There have been instances when [someone at the door is] not a student, or if they’ve said they were former students, then we have to make sure and follow up with them,” Renwick said. “If they’re adults, we … make sure that I give them about three to five minutes by the time they enter, and if they don’t come to the office to sign in, then I’ll send our [security] officer that’s on duty or other administrators to make sure and look in the hallways because we just we have to make sure that it’s OK; it’s safe.”
Senior Tina Coe Kalogeris, who waits inside the doors of the north entrance for 30 minutes after school, said she usually doesn’t open the door unless she knows the individual. Coe Kalogeris said other students who sit by the entrances often try to ignore people who knock on the doors, but end up opening them out of common courtesy.
“They try and pull on the door handle, and then knock on the door, and I just kind of stare at them. I don’t want to be at fault for a school shooting,” Kalogeris said. “It doesn’t take very long for them to press the button and then wait for the lady to say, ‘Are you a student here?”
Renwick said she wants students to think about why the school has a buzz-in system in place and discourages students from opening the door for a person they don’t recognize.
“I know that it’s a change, but [the system] is there for [students’] protection,” Renwick said. “My word of caution is if you don’t recognize the person at the door, don’t let them in. Just bypass it and let them come in through somebody verifying who they are.”
By Emily Franke
photo by Devesh Kumar