Schools Plan To Build ‘Mantraps’

Visitors to Ohio County school buildings soon might enter “mantrap” rooms before gaining entrance to school facilities under a plan for improving school safety measures in the future.

Assistant Superintendent Bernie Dolan spoke before Ohio County Board of Education members during a special meeting Friday, and advised them of what he foresees as needed expenditures for the school district in the coming months. Among the items discussed was the construction of mantraps at the entrance of each school building.

Mantraps are used in security to separate non-secure areas from secure areas and prevent unauthorized access. It is a small room with an entry door on one wall and an exit door on the opposite wall located just inside the front doors to building. One door of a mantrap cannot be unlocked and opened until the opposite door has been closed and locked.

Visitors to school buildings currently have to press a button on the outside door entrance and speak to someone in the office before gaining entrance to the facility. Once a mantrap is built, the visitor would enter the building then be stopped by a second door in front of them. Officials then would decide whether they should allow the visitor inside.

At Wheeling Park High School, a school resource officer sits at a desk in the front hallway and is in charge of entry into the building. Dolan explained that under the plan to build a mantrap room at the school, the SRO desk would be moved into the mantrap – the area between the front doors and the secondary doors inside.

Dolan said he could not yet provide the exact cost to the school district for building the mantraps. In addition to WPHS, the district operates nine elementary school buildings and four middle school facilities.

School board members Friday sought information to help them prioritize future spending needs as Dolan continued his report. He told them a paving project was needed at Bethlehem Elementary School, and windows could soon need replaced at some facilities. Additionally, there is a need to update and expand broadband capabilities in the schools.

In the transportation department, there is a need to purchase “two buses beyond” whatever allocation the West Virginia Department of Education gives them for that purpose, Dolan said. At least seven buses “need replacing immediately,” he said.

A new fuel tank monitoring system is also needed by at the transportation garage by the start of the next school year as the company that operates the system used by the school district is going out of business.