10 Ways to Improve School Safety
- Install video surveillance cameras
- Invest in a door access control system
- Install intrusion alarms
- Install an Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement System (ERCES)
- Conduct a physical risk assessment
- Hire a school resource officer
- Regularly practice lockdown and other safety procedures
- Routinely check first aid kits
- Maintain regular staff training sessions
- Bring parents into school safety procedures
From parents and children to administrators and teachers, school safety is a topic on everyone’s mind. With the rise in incidents over the last few years, developing robust school security measures is not something that can be overlooked.
To help school leadership better understand how to improve safety within the classroom and across campus, here are 10 actionable tips that can strengthen security procedures and keep kids safe.
1. Install Video Surveillance Cameras
Nationwide, for every 100 students, there are around 10 reported crime incidents. Video surveillance is a critical tool that can both reduce the likelihood of criminal activity on school grounds and provide evidence in the event of an incident.
High-resolution security cameras with cloud storage capabilities provide crystal clear video and offer always-accessible storage that can’t be tampered with easily. Even just the sight of a camera is enough to deter possible criminal activity, so be sure to place cameras both in obvious places as well as inconspicuous places to catch would-be criminals and other school-related events.
2. Invest in a Door Access Control System
Door access control systems are essential security tools that provide vital physical entry management for school buildings. These systems help monitor and control visitor access to ensure that only authorized individuals can gain entry.
Modern access control systems offer several advanced features, including:
- Cloud-based management
- Universal controllers
- Convenient identification methods
- Customizable controls
An access control system is only one component of a comprehensive entry security strategy. It’s recommended that school campuses create an area near the main office where visitors and other unauthorized guests can wait for I.D. verification. Here, buzzers for entry and other security systems like surveillance cameras can be installed to help create a layered, more holistic security solution.
3. Install Intrusion Alarms
An intrusion alarm system is an essential part of school security. These alarms detect and alert users of an attempted or successful unauthorized entry inside and outside a building — in this case, the school’s campus.
Intrusion alarms are critical to ensure authorized access, along with access control systems, especially during off-hours. A key feature of intrusion detection is that these systems easily integrate with emergency notification systems to alert faculty members and responders promptly in case of a security breach.
4. Install an Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement System (ERCES)
An emergency responder communication enhancement system (ERCES) is important for clear, reliable communication between the school and first responders during emergencies. The ERCES receives radio signals and transmits them throughout a designated area. This allows first responders to receive real-time information vital for effective crisis response, even in dead zones such as:
5. Conduct a Physical Risk Assessment
A physical security risk assessment thoroughly evaluates current safety procedures and strategies. During this assessment, a professional security team will help identify potential vulnerabilities in the school’s security infrastructure.
This proactive approach allows the security team and school leadership to develop strategies to address potential risks and enhance overall security. Assessments like this should happen regularly as threats evolve over time, and new technologies are often recommended during the implementation stage to help strengthen a school’s security posture.
6. Hire a School Resource Officer
Around two-thirds of public K-12 schools have one or more security staff present at least once a week, up 43% from a decade ago. Adding a school resource officer or other security personnel can provide invaluable management, training, and policy development in the realm of school safety and security.
These professionals increase security in schools because their specialty is in protecting and serving the education sector. More than just enhancing security, though, they often provide mentorship and community service that contributes to a safer school environment.
7. Regularly Practice Lockdown and Other Safety Procedures
Lockdowns and other emergency procedures are an everyday element of education. They ensure that students and staff know exactly what to do in the event of an emergency. However, these procedures rely on regular practice for effective response — it’s not enough to simply plan them out.
There are many different types of safety procedures, and schools need to develop a schedule to practice each emergency thoroughly. This includes:
- Shelter in place
- Internal threat
- External threat
- Full lockdown
- Fire, flood, and other natural disaster drills
8. Routinely Check First Aid Kits
Accidents and incidents, while sometimes avoidable, are a part of operating a school. Being prepared means having all the tools and equipment necessary to tackle a list of common emergencies. This includes keeping well-stocked and regularly maintained first-aid kits.
In the case of emergencies, wounds, or health issues, a properly stocked first-aid kit can help treat students quickly and effectively. These kits should be within sight around the school. Moreover, staff need the proper training to use the equipment properly and to respond to common emergencies such as choking, allergic reactions, or non-life-threatening surface wounds.
9. Maintain Regular Staff Training Sessions
Training is an essential part of proper school security. Training staff on security protocols prevents mishaps in the event of an emergency situation. It also is the key to maintaining security protocols. For example, a door access control system is only as effective as the least trained employee. If they give out their keycard or passcode, they can inadvertently put students at risk.
Ongoing sessions for staff on security procedures, including fire extinguisher training, is essential. These sessions ensure all staff members are informed, prepared, and confident in handling potential security incidents.
10. Bring Parents Into School Safety Procedures
Getting parents' buy-in for security procedures is another excellent way to strengthen school safety. This is often one of the most overlooked strategies. Provide parents with relevant information containing actions they can take to implement security procedures in their own homes that align with school policies as a way to reinforce learning for students.
It’s important to relay to parents that listening to a student’s concerns helps everyone. If they see something suspicious, they should feel comfortable talking not only to their parents but relevant school officials.
Ready to Improve Your School’s Security?
School safety isn’t just about preventing disasters; it’s about helping students feel comfortable. With these actionable tips, everyone from school leadership to parents can strengthen their existing security strategies and develop procedures to deal with any possible emergency.
Schools interested in developing more robust school security measures should connect with seasoned security experts to learn more about their options.