CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — “It just allows us to do something different for the protection and safety of our kids,” Valarian Couch, Champaign School District, said.
Educators, parents and students have been discussing it for months. Permanent metal detectors are now in place at two Champaign’s High Schools.
The detectors have been up for a few weeks, but today we got our first look at how they work. They are less abrasive so students don’t feel like they are going through a huge security measure. They also are solely looking to detect weapons.
“It allows us to set a standard for our school knowing that we trying to make a safe and secure model for what we’re trying to incur in the future,” Couch said.
After months of conversation, on January 4th, crews installed metal detectors in Champaign’s High Schools: Central and Centennial.
“We tried the regular metal detectors, you’ve seen the long lines before, we’re tried the wanding it was still long lines,” Couch said. “Now, there is no long lines. It has been a constant flow of getting the kids in getting them to class,, that was our whole thing of just getting them to class as soon as possible.”
The metal detectors are looking for weapons, so they shouldn’t go off for everyday items.
“They can keep everything else in their bag, the only thing else they need to pull out is their chrome book,” Couch said.
If a weapon is detected when someone walks through, they’ll be stopped and shown on the monitor with a big square around the area that was detected.
“The school has been looking to develop a way to have the kids come in here in a safe and efficient manner, where they can come in and they can learn, but not feel as though they are having their personal space violated so they want to get them in quickly and efficiently, but have them be in a very safe environment,” John Riley, with Evolv Technology, said.
The district says they are just happy they’re able to provide that for students, faculty and staff.
“We’re trying to make sure our schools stay safe and allow us to get our hands back around the kids on a social and emotional learning standpoint,” Couch said. “For us to make the kids feel safe coming to school and being able to learn.”
“For students nowadays I think they have to kind of live in two worlds,” Riley said. “One is kind of the fear of school violence and the other is they just want to come here and learn, right, and we want to help facilitate an environment that if they come in and get both of those.”
These detectors were installed the same month a former Centennial student was sentenced for showing some type of weapon at the school. 18-year-old Pereze Collier will be on probation for two and a half years. Back in September, Champaign police said there was a fight at the school, where Collier took out what investigators believe to have been a gun out of his backpack. Collier says it was mace with a handle.
Meanwhile, another school also just approved metal detectors for their high school just last week. The Urbana school board voted to bring in detectors specifically designed for weapon detection as well. They did a survey among students and staff that showed a majority of them wanted increased security at the school.