Physical security, partnerships, and social programs are equally paramount to maintaining safe schools.
Ben Thompson, Principal and K-12 Studio Director for McMillan Pazdan Smith, explains for District Administration how schools can become safer beyond the built environment.
Physical security measures should be incorporated with care and tact. Overt security and surveillance equipment can make students perceive risk and feel uncomfortable. The result is an environment that doesn’t encourage learning.
Entryways into the school should have devices that control the locking mechanisms. Interior security measures include security systems, fencing, secure courtyards and windows that allow visibility of activity outside the school.
Local law enforcement partners can act as a threat assessment team. They can provide inspections and be a valuable resource for maintaining safe schools. Teachers, staff, substitute teachers, volunteers, and any adult in the school on a regular basis should know the safety protocols. For example, keeping exterior doors locked and using visitor control systems and practices. They should also participate in active shooter drills in the event of an active shooter.
Social programs like bully prevention and other outreach programs can provide assessments and resources to help uphold the safety students and the community.
A safe educational environment requires more than physical security. The social and emotional needs of at-risk students, preparation of faculty and relationships with law enforcement partners are equally important to keeping your campus safe.
Check out “Designing a safe school requires more than just built solutions” for more of Thompson’s school safety and security tips for preparation and planning, forming partnerships, and creating social programs.
A PDF of the article can be downloaded here.