Layers of School Security
We all know there is no ONE thing a school or district can do to keep students and staff safe.
It is a layered approach.
With the start of the 2021-2022 School Year just weeks away, I am noticing that my calendar is filling up with Security and Vulnerability Assessments within School Districts. At the end of the 2020-2021 School Year, I visited a school for a meeting, but as always, mentally assessed the layers of security in place. The District of the school I visited is at the top of their game, so these layers of safety should be considered within all Districts.
- They saw me from the moment I parked in the designated visitor lot on their Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) system. Every classroom was clearly marked on the windows for First Responders, and exterior doors were numbered.
2. Signs on the front door welcomed me to the school but let me know I would need to go directly to the office after I entered. The building was secured and I used the intercom system to request entry. The administrative assistant said, “Good morning. How may I help you?” I removed my mask and sunglasses, stated my name, and gave her the name of the staff member I was seeing. I was told I was expected because the staff member let the office know I was coming.
3. As I entered the building there was a hand-sanitizing station. Though sometimes overlooked, COVID-19 precautions should also be considered a layer of school safety and security.
4. In the office, I used their Visitor ID System to create an adhesive badge to wear. Chairs in the office were spaced apart to keep a physical distance. Plexiglass separated me from the administrative assistant. Although I was expected and had a visitor’s badge, I was escorted to the classroom where I would be speaking.
5. As I walked down the hall there were directional stickers on the floor and reminders to stay six feet apart. Drinking fountains were covered but students could fill water bottles from the dispensers. Everyone in the building was wearing a face mask.
6. Students were spread out in the classroom. Hand sanitizer dispensers were in the room.
7. When my visit was over I stopped in the office to sign out and dispose of my Visitor ID.
Because this District is a client of mine, I know there is an added unseen layer of school security in all of their schools: The Mobile Emergency Response Plan, or MERP, mobile application. The MERP is a school emergency management software that allows Emergency Plans to be on the mobile devices of every teacher, administrator, and staff member in the District. The MERP comes with safety plans pre-installed but allows School Districts to put their safety plans in the hands of those that need it, when they need it. Knowing how quickly plans can change, I designed this specific school emergency management software to allow the District to customize and revise their plans at any time for free. Leaving this school, I knew that every teacher had that school’s emergency plan on their person and would be able to appropriately respond to any situation – from a student’s nose bleed to an angry parent in the school building.
What impressed me the most about this school and District is that they employ a ‘multi-hazard’ approach to security. Some Districts like to focus on just the Active Threat, but this is both short-sighted and dangerous. If we just focus on the Active Threat we are likely to fail in our response to the Active Threat and also fail at the events that are more likely to occur.
Are you employing a multi-hazard approach to security this school year? Are you considering COVID-19 an Active Threat to your students and staff? What layers of school security do you have in place?
Submit your layers of school security below for me to review for free.