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School Security Best Practices

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School administrators are under pressure to provide enhanced security in response to increasing safety concerns. Educators are challenged with creating a relaxed yet vigilant environment designed for learning. While the statistics alone for school shootings can be overwhelming, administrators are fighting to keep a balance between safety and education.

Over 230 shootings have happened on school property since the year 2000, with almost half of the shootings resulting in death.  Not all were students and not all happened inside the school building.  Since the beginning of 2018 there have been nearly 35 school shootings alone on school grounds, the worst in February when the alleged shooter pulled the fire alarm, rendering the students, teachers and staff vulnerable. 

No school administrator wants to have to face the challenges of violence; yet all must come to grips with that possibility. School Administrators must plan and prepare for a broad array of threats and train for each response option associated with that particular threat.

They must be prepared to proactively communicate about school safety, and evaluate their protocols, strategies, practices and technology on a yearly basis. 

 

Assessing School Safety – Both informal and formal safety and security audits should be conducted.  Conduct a security assessment every year.

Best practices

  • A comprehensive physical inspection and evaluation of all systems and controls by a security professional will determine where the gaps in security are and be able to recommend cost-effective solutions that will provide the greatest impact on school security.
  • Scheduling a preventative maintenance inspection yearly keeps systems in working condition, before issues arise. Regular security system maintenance is vital to safeguard your school.

 

Making Upgrades – Updating technology is critically important. Innovation moves quickly, so it’s important to mitigate hidden risks from old systems.  Upgrading is vital.

Best Practice

  • Security enhancements and updates should be done at a minimum of every two years to keep the campus secure against intruders.
  • Video surveillance with remote online access capabilities allows first responders real-time access to recorded and live, up-to-the-second information about an unauthorized intruder’s movements. Remote access allows immediate and appropriate responses to situations.
  • Use video surveillance with video analytics technology, which is  a sophisticated deep learning artificial intelligence search engine for video. See how Fulton County School District is using this technology to keep their students, teachers and staff safe.  https://www.youtube.com/embed/8JuVMqlhz_E 

 

Security Measures – The more time you spend in preparing for a threat, the more prepared you will be to respond and defend against it.

Best practices

  • Protect the school perimeter with fencing and video surveillance. Install well placed signage with clear instructions for all visitors.
  • Use an electronic Visitor Management System or VMS with printed temporary badges that include the date/time, who they are going to see and a photo of the visitor.  
  • Primary entrances should be equipped with electronic access control and a video intercom system to manage access and communicate with visitors. 
  • All secondary doors should always be locked from the outside and modified for emergency exit only. Traffic should be directed to designated entrances and exits to monitor and control access to the building.  
  • Interior doors should be held open with magnetic door holders with the actual hardware locked at all times. During a lockdown event the doors can be programmed to automatically release, close and lock, with the swipe of a specific lockdown card at any reader.
  • During emergency lockdowns it is critical that students and faculty are prepared to react quickly. 
  1. Install classroom security locks on the classroom doors so teachers can readily secure students and themselves behind locked doors without becoming a target in the hallway. 
  2. All classrooms and common areas should have the same key, which gives teachers and staff the ability to secure any area or classroom during a lockdown event, quickly and easily. Keys should be with teachers and staff at all times.
  • Implement an effective communication system with an alternative power source, to notify every student, teacher and staff member within and outside the school. 
  • Panic buttons should be installed with the ability to alert security or police and set emergency protocols in motion.
  • Installing security laminates on windows and doors will render them smash-resistant.

 

Process and Procedures – When an emergency occurs within the school, staff and students must know how to effectively respond within mere moments. Practiced procedures produce effective results. 

Best Practice

  • Every school should have a comprehensive, multi-hazard emergency management plan with well-defined and well-executed processes for natural or manmade disaster events that is written and available to staff members.
  • Implement active shooter procedures and conduct practice drills regularly.
  • Keep a vigilant eye out for any breach of security and take action immediately. Proactive observation by teachers and staff can help to prevent a situation from occurring. Staff should be trained to know what to do if they engage an unauthorized visitor on campus.
  • Require all students, teachers and staff to wear color coded photo ID badges at all times. 
  • Have a dedicated full-time school resource officer for each school or district depending on the size of the school system. 

As a school security expert we can provide your school with the knowledge they need to increase safety and security in and around their buildings. We offer access control, video surveillance, intrusion systems, panic notification, security laminates and more.  If you would like a FREE security assessment, call One Source Security today at 1-800-570-6478.

‘In reference to One Source Security, We have been using One Source as a preferred vendor here at the Milford School District for 15 years now.  From the front office staff to the technicians that show up on site, they are all professional and friendly, willing to help and go the extra step to ensure we are satisfied with all of the work. We have them work on all of our camera systems, card access and alarm systems and I will not hesitate to recommend One Source for all of your security needs’.

William S.Cooper

Director - Buildings and Grounds

Milford School District - SAU 40

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