Students need a safe learning environment in which they can fully focus on their education and future. But in recent years, incidents like shootings, bomb threats and other dangerous situations have become more prevalent in the news. And violence, such as physical fights and bullying, remains a major concern for schools everywhere.
We make it a point to continually advise our school clients on how they can be smarter about security in NYC and New Jersey. Here are four ways any school can improve:
1. Foster a healthy environment
Although our specialty is school security systems, we know that the first step towards safer schools is creating a safe, supportive climate. Studies show that students who feel connected to school in some way are more likely to have several positive health and academic outcomes. Most importantly, they are less likely to be involved in illegal activities, violence and misbehavior.
Schools can encourage students to take advantage of support systems in place for both academics and personal guidance. Schools can also provide opportunities that engage students, families and others to foster a sense of community.
In addition, both parents and teachers can influence kids to make good choices, help others and be safe. For parents, communication is key. For teachers and staff, support and professional development can help them meet the diverse needs of students each day.
2. Control access
The next step towards smarter security is access control. Schools can start by monitoring and limiting points of entry, which creates barriers for those trying to access school grounds. Even if these barriers can’t completely stop a person, they can at least cause a delay. Some schools even have secure vestibules at main entrances to ensure visitors are locked in a secure space until they are fully authorized.
Points of entry outside of main entrances should never be open to outsiders. But balance is important; students should feel welcome as they get to school each day, but protected from intruders nonetheless. By implementing an electronic access control system with identification badges, students can gain access easily enough that it doesn’t interrupt their day.
3. Harden the classroom
If an intruder did find a way in, students and teachers would need to lock themselves in classrooms to stay safe. This is why securing classrooms is equally important to securing the building.
Solutions include doors that lock from the inside, doors that automatically lock from the outside each time they shut, bulletproof glass and more. Teachers should also have places within each classroom to provide both cover and concealment.
4. Plan for emergencies
Having law enforcement at the scene is a school’s best bet during any kind of emergency, but they can’t always get there in time. If a fire breaks out or if a dangerous individual is present, schools have mere seconds to choose how to respond. This is why planning is so important.
An emergency response plan should be in place for a variety of scenarios—fires, active shooters, severe weather conditions, etc. Drills should also be scheduled multiple times throughout the year to ensure students and staff are knowledgeable.
In planning for such events, schools need to take every little detail into consideration: how they’ll achieve mass notification, how they’ll communication with authorities, when they’ll inform parents, how onsite security staff should respond, who will handle first-aid, how they’ll account for safe and missing students, and so on.
Let us help you achieve smarter security for your NYC school
We have experience securing K-12 and higher education school properties across New York and New Jersey. Contact us to set up a consultation or browse our website to learn more.