Children spend a good part of their life at school, either in the classroom or participating in school activities often on school premises. So, schools must be just as committed to safety measures as parents are. Students need to be protected not only within the confines of school property but while entering and exiting the premises.
While natural disasters can strike at any time, nowadays safety is front and center in any discussion regarding schools due to an increase in man-made threats and the targeting of educational institutes. Parents place their trust in schools when they enroll their children and schools need to step up in the safety battle to merit that trust. Teachers and staff also need to feel safe in the workplace. Any school whether public or private will be at risk if vulnerabilities are not addressed.
Thanks to advancements in technology, there are now a wide array of security measures that schools can take to improve the safety of their students, staff, teachers, and visitors. Here are several that can make a difference.
One initial measure to enact is illuminating the outside of the school, especially during school hours. Good exterior illumination ensures that students can always be seen anywhere on the property when school or school activities are in session. Schools need to light the entire premises including buildings and all school grounds and facilities.
Installation of Security Locks
The quality of building locks will substantially contribute to overall building security. These locks should be in use when school is in session and when school is closed. High-quality security locks installed not only on doors but on windows or any type of potential entrance will enhance overall security by furnishing an additional layer of security at all times.
Access Point Monitoring
All school access points, entries, and exits should always be monitored. With appropriate access control, school administrators can control who enters and exits school facilities and will be able to limit not only traffic flow but prevent undesirable visitors from entering school property. Video monitoring should be installed with security cameras positioned at all entry posts regardless of the traffic flow and video should be subject to constant monitoring by security personnel. Video recordings should be kept for at least 30 days for reference.
Smart locks with digital or biometric credentials will also be useful in restricting unwanted visitors from entering the premises. A technologically advanced entry system will allow varying levels of access to specific areas by teachers, staff, or contractors and suppliers that can be determined by school administrators according to need.
Interior Monitoring of School Premises
Security cameras, video monitoring, and CCTV are essential inside school buildings and facilities. Video security permits school administrators to be aware of what is happening anywhere in the school to ensure safety. Video monitoring also allows administrators to view and intervene rapidly in the event of any type of undesirable incident among staff and students or individuals or groups of students. There should be no blind areas on school property.
Protect the Perimeter of School Premises
Most threats arrive from the outside of the premises. Securing institutional perimeters can significantly reduce outside threats. Perimeter security measures might include the installation of
- security doors
- security windows
- security screens
- license plate recognition cameras
Perimeter security aids in keeping a visual on outdoor activities while students and teachers are safe indoors. An investment in perimeter security alleviates worrying about what is happening on the property. The use of LPR cameras can also aid in monitoring vehicles entering and exiting school grounds for the identification of suspicious vehicles.
Establish an Access Procedure for Visitors
Visitors to school properties are to be expected. Depending on their reason for visiting, these visits can happen at any time during school hours. To guarantee that visitors are authorized to enter, visitor access control should be in place whenever the school is in operation. This will facilitate the work of both school staff and security personnel regarding who is in the building, where they are, and why they are visiting at any given time. It also will eliminate the risk of who should not be allowed into the building.
Install Panic Technology
Panic technology can include a specific protected panic space or room that offers complete safety or panic buttons that alert administrators and law enforcement that a threat is taking place. Panic buttons may be portable and worn by teachers and staff or installed in a specific location within the classroom.
Update Communication Systems
Install or update the school’s intercom system. Every classroom as well as the hallway should be served by a high-powered speaker for emergency communications. Large areas where students and teachers gather like cafeterias, gymnasiums, libraries, outdoor areas or similar must likewise be equipped with a public intercom system.
Reinforce Relationships With Law Enforcement, Public Safety Personnel, and Emergency Responders
Public safety and law enforcement will generally have a designated school resource officer. Administrators should work closely with these professionals to create a safer school environment and establish emergency protocols should the need arise. This can improve response time in the event of an emergency and aid in obtaining information critical to intervention.
Improve Cybersecurity and Data Storage
Data security is equally important as physical security. School systems should be evaluated for vulnerabilities and updated. Cloud-based systems can eliminate the need for on-premise storage and security as well as allow for remote access and management. All security systems including video monitoring can be integrated into a single interface allowing for easier interaction and management of security needs and intervention.
Keeping Schools Safe
Schools need to adopt security measures to guarantee a safe and serene learning environment. Each school property will be unique however with proper evaluation of physical and cyber security needs and the school communication system followed by a close partnership with public safety professionals, schools will be better prepared to meet the evolving security challenges facing educational institutions.