The safety of students and faculty in schools has always been a concern. Unfortunately, school violence is on the rise and safety issues in schools are in the spotlight more than ever.
Over the last several years, tragic active threat scenarios have unfolded at schools across the country, resulting in a heightened need for schools to reevaluate their security measures and implement new safety planning and security technology.
With the right combination of best practices and technology, schools can do a lot to prevent and mitigate the risks of scenarios that threaten the safety of their students and staff.
7 Ways To Mitigate Safety Issues in Schools and Protect Teachers and Students
1. Install Riot Glass polycarbonate or glass-clad polycarbonate security glazing
The number one way to protect the physical safety and security of students and staff in schools is to create physical barriers to forced entry, or access denial barriers, using Riot Glass security glazing.
Riot Glass security glazing products consist of unique blends of polycarbonates, acrylics, laminated glass, and other composites, resulting in virtually unbreakable glazing shields that can be mounted over, behind, or in place of the existing glass in schools.
Depending on the thickness and the exact composition of these glazing shields, they can be forced entry resistant, bullet resistant, or both.
Either way, Riot Glass glazing provides the best access denial for schools, helping them lock down more securely and protecting the lives of students and faculty during active threat scenarios.
Because polycarbonate or glass-clad polycarbonate glazing units can often be retrofitted on top of existing windows and doors using framing adapters, they’re also a very cost-effective security upgrade for schools when compared to replacing all the existing glass with security glass..
Since it’s completely clear, Riot Glass security glazing also allows schools to maintain all the benefits of natural light and visibility in classrooms — it fortifies schools, without making them look or feel fortified.
2. Secure school perimeters with high fencing
Another important part of keeping students and staff safe in schools is securing the perimeters of school grounds.
If an armed assailant can just walk anywhere onto school property, it’s much easier for them to find a way to gain entry to a school building and potentially harm those inside.
This is why schools should build high fencing (at least 8 feet tall) to secure their perimeters and help keep bad guys out.
A secure perimeter makes it much easier to control and monitor who comes and goes, and makes other security measures much more effective at mitigating the safety issues that schools face.
3. Implement access control systems
Schools should designate one principal entryway for students and staff and keep all other doors closed and locked.
The main entrance should have some sort of access control, such as keycard-controlled entry, or be monitored by staff (preferably a school security guard or resource officer) to ensure only people who are authorized to be there get in.
4. Add monitored surveillance systems, inside and out
Although video surveillance doesn’t physically prevent access or violent incidents, it can discourage violence and also allow security personnel to notice and respond to suspicious activity to prevent an incident from spiraling out of control.
Schools should install monitored surveillance cameras at key points around their exteriors, as well as inside school buildings.
For instance, cameras should be mounted on perimeter fencing, outside all doors, and in common areas like playgrounds, cafeterias, hallways, and stairwells.
5. Practice lockdown drills
Emergency lockdown plans are required for responding to a variety of safety issues in schools, from active threat scenarios to natural disasters. However, lockdowns are really only effective if students and faculty practice them regularly, so they know exactly what to do when a real emergency situation arises.
Schools should hold lockdown drills at least twice a year, ideally near the beginning of each school session. It’s also a best practice to practice lockdown drills in coordination with local law enforcement and other first responders, ensuring that they are as close to the real thing as possible.
When schools implement lockdowns along with physical security measures, such as access denial barriers, the physical safety of students and staff increases exponentially.
6. Create an anonymous reporting system for reporting safety issues in schools
Many safety issues in schools can be avoided with a tip, but people are often hesitant to report threats if they cannot remain anonymous because of fear of reprisals or consequences.
To get around this problem, schools can develop an anonymous reporting system, either on their websites or as a standalone application.
This allows students, teachers, or anyone from the community to securely report things like bullying, harassment, and threats of violence, so school administrators and the proper authorities can respond appropriately.
7. Train teachers and students on how to recognize potential threats
Training students and staff on how to identify warning signs of potential security threats makes it easier for them to know when to report something that could help prevent violence.
It’s also a good idea to send out informational training materials to the parents of students and other members of the community, increasing the likelihood that threats get reported.
Where Can Schools Start To Improve Security?
All the tips above are a great place for schools to start implementing new safety and security measures. However, we also recommend starting with a professional threat assessment, a special type of security evaluation carried out by an expert.
During a threat assessment, a school security expert will thoroughly inspect the facilities and interview administrators and other staff to identify the perceived and actual threat levels. They will then make actionable recommendations about how to improve security in various areas, with budget and other factors in mind.
Campbell Window Film, LLC is a licensed dealer and installer of Riot Glass security glazing products. We can help any school harden its physical security to mitigate safety and security threats.
Contact us today for a free consultation or to schedule a threat assessment.