New ID entry system focuses on security

Dana Hall School issued a new ID system shortly after Thanksgiving break. Starting on December 3rd, all members of the Dana Hall community are required to carry a scannable ID to enter the majority of the buildings on campus. 

Even though there has never been a security threat to Dana Hall, Mr. Charles Breslin, Dana Hall’s Chief Operating Officer, says that “we have a very open campus with a lot of different buildings, and so this was a way of making the buildings more secure for the folks coming and going from each of the buildings.” With a campus as spread out as Dana, the system adds a layer of security for community members. Dana Hall also wanted to get up to speed with neighboring independent schools, such as the St. Mark’s School, which also has a swipe card ID system in place, and with whom Mr. Breslin consulted. 

There are 27 access points across campus that require an ID to enter. These locations include the Classroom Building, the Library Science Center, Wayside, all dormitories, the Middle School main and back entrances and art room, the Shipley Center, and Bardwell. 

Emily Gardner ’21 says that the new ID system was frustrating at first, especially when people forgot their cards, and when the weather was unpleasant; however, it has now become a part of her routine that she no longer thinks about. Although it can be a hassle, Emily comments that she understands and appreciates the motives for the new system and that she feels even more secure than she already did. To alleviate some of the hassles that come with this new ID system, Emily advises students to hold the doors open for other students. Emily concluded by saying that “pretty much every college or school with a big campus has this system, so it is something we should all get used to.” Indeed, most colleges and more independent schools are implementing this system, and Dana Hall wanted its campus to reflect its priority on safety as other schools campuses do.

The Shipley Center has a unique situation; during after school hours, the doors are unlocked to allow for Dana Hall students to easily make their way to their afternoon fitness/sports activities, as well as for teams outside of the Dana Hall community that practice there. 

Similarly, the Music School is not a carded access point because of the number of outside community members that utilize the space. 

These buildings’ being unlocked at specific times has not caused any concerns, as Campus Safety is patrolling all areas throughout the day. Currently, not all of the doors are swipe card enabled because heavily trafficked areas were of utmost importance. Nevertheless, Dana Hall faculty are keeping a list of doors they would like to add in the future. 

According to Mr. Breslin and Mr. Robert Mather, Assistant Head of School, the rollout and response to the new ID system have been very successful. Members of the community adopted it into their routine very openly and quickly, and the initial communication of the change went seamlessly. 

Nonetheless, there are still some challenges being addressed. Throughout the process, implementing new technology to older doors caused a problem. Many doors required a retrofit or had to be replaced altogether. An example of this is in the Classroom Building, where the doors are wooden and haven’t been renovated in 20 years. Ultimately, these doors required a magnetic lock solution that differed from the majority of other buildings. Both Mr. Breslin and Mr. Mather acknowledge that some days the doors will work better than others and that, at times, it will require some patience. 

The process of introducing, designing, and implementing this new ID system was lengthy and precise, involving numerous Dana Hall community members. As Chief Operating Officer of the school, Mr. Breslin oversees any facilities changes and upgrades, including the new ID system. Mr. Mather helped problem-solve and troubleshoot any challenges. Ms. Liza Cohen, Director of Communications, was responsible for telling community members the changes ahead and provided a place for people to ask questions. Other key contributors included Mr. Fred Clayton, Director of Information Systems, Ms. Holly Congdon, Executive Assistant to the Head of School, as well as numerous members of the administration team including Dr. Lauren Goldberg, Ms. Donna Corrigan, and Ms. Jessica Keimowitz.

There are always new concerns arising, which leads to the ID system constantly being under revision. For example, after some middle schoolers lost their ID’s, all middle schoolers were given complimentary lanyards to hold their ID close to their person throughout the day. Another concern was emergency services being locked out of buildings. To resolve this, Dana Hall has provided the Wellesley Police Department with a swipe card of its own.

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