Maintaining physical security in a school to ensure the safety of its staff and students is a priority for any institution. Although many schools have continuously beefed up security to face various threats, research shows that more still needs to be done. A report published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics reveals some rather unsettling stats on the general state of school security in the country:
- In 2019, 764,600 students aged 12-18 experienced victimization in school.
- About 22 percent of students reported being bullied in school.
- Nine percent of students reported gang presence in their school.
- In 2019 and 2020, there were 75 school shootings with casualties (injuries and fatalities).
Don’t let your school become part of such statistics. Here are some practical tips for improving your school’s physical security:
Conduct a security audit
A solid security plan starts with an understanding of the institution’s security posture. Conducting a thorough security assessment will reveal all the possible threats that the school faces, the existing security infrastructure, and all security vulnerabilities. From there, you can identify risks and determine the best security solutions to mitigate those risks.
Remember, institution-wide security assessment should be a regular thing. Carry out a comprehensive security audit at the start of each school year and after making significant changes around the school.
Invest in video surveillance
Video surveillance is an easy and practical way to monitor activities around the school and deter threats to school property, staff, and students. Surveillance systems have become commonplace in many learning institutions. On average, more than 80 percent of public schools in the U.S. use security cameras for surveillance.
The trick to effective surveillance is placing the cameras in strategic locations around the school premises. Ensure you have active surveillance cameras in these key locations:
- Main perimeter
- Parking entries
- Lot hot spots
- Bus pickup
- All entry points
- Lobbies and hallways
- Café registers
- Corridors and intersections
- Staff offices
Also, consider installing additional surveillance systems such as motion and metal detectors and temperature monitors for COVID-19 control.
Regularly maintain school grounds for clear visibility
Keeping your school neat plays a big role in maintaining physical security. For instance, pruning overgrown vegetation makes for a clear view and eliminates blind spots where threat actors could hide. Also, proper landscaping enhances directional traffic flow, making it easier to monitor and predict movements around the school.
But don’t stop at landscaping. Ensure that all security features and amenities work properly, too, from lighting and smoke detectors to intercoms.
Cover all entry points
With an impenetrable and virtually monitored perimeter, the only possible intrusion points remaining are the school’s entrances. Man all the main gates, doors, and other entries with guards assisted by virtual surveillance. Manned intrusion coverage may be more dependable than digital access control barriers (in some cases). Still, there is no reason you can’t have both. Here are some tips for effective intrusion coverage:
- Install card access in protected areas
- Segregate entry points based on security clearance
- Cover every entrance (office doors, vestibules, main entries, detached buildings)
- Integrate alarms and notifications at entrances
Prepare your staff
Ensure your school’s staff is on board with the security policies in place. Educate them on how to use various security tools, follow guidelines, and respond to hostile situations. You could also arrange mock drills involving teachers, students, and non-teaching staff to prepare the entire institution for any eventuality.
Physical security in school is all about keeping students and staff safe from hazards, security risks, and distress. These threats can come from outside the school perimeter or within. With so many moving parts, it takes careful considerations to guarantee safety at school. But don’t worry, TFE has partnered with Genetec and Panasonic to help you achieve the best possible security status in your school. Contact us to learn about the school security solution we have in store.