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School District 833 ups building security for Election Day

Newport Elementary School is among polling places on Election Day. District 833 has added parent hall monitors in buildings that serve as polling places. (Bulletin file photo)

South Washington County Schools is taking additional steps—for the first time scheduling parent hall monitors—to provide school security on Election Day.

Fifty-three parents volunteered to occupy the hallways of District 833 schools that serve as polling places at various times on Nov. 8, providing crowd control and voter communication, while principals have cleared their schedules for the day and staff members also plan to assist.

Washington County indicated to District 833 that there would be an additional election judge at each polling place, in anticipation of a high level of interest and a large number of voters.

"There's been some questions about the election and things that people have heard on the news about the election," Superintendent Keith Jacobus told the South Washington County School Board Nov. 3, "so I wanted to let you know we have been working on this plan with the county officials and the city. The safety of our students and staff remains top priority every day and this Election Day will be no exception."

Preparations for security improvements began in February, even before the heated presidential campaign led to talk of polling place problems on Election Day. City and county officials worked with law enforcement and District 833 to walk through the polling places' areas for voting and brainstorming adjustments to make the voting process more efficient while also maintaining school security.

"We know that this election will be a highly participatory election," Jacobus said. "We'll have many people there. We wanted to make sure we can do everything we can."

South Washington County Schools sites that are used for elections include East Ridge, Park and Woodbury high schools, Lake and Cottage Grove middle schools, Bailey, Crestview, Liberty Ridge, Newport, Pine Hill, Valley Crossing and Cottage Grove elementary schools, the District 833 Program Center and the District 833 Service Center.

"Each school has determined where our parents can be most helpful in overseeing the entrances and exits to ensure voters get into the polling location and students remain in the educational spaces," Jacobus said.

Keeping students separate from voters is important to making sure "the education goes forward," Jacobus said. "We anticipate a good election."

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