Schools need protocols in place that address the unique threats and hazards they face. These protocols can prevent security breaches and provide peace of mind for students, parents, teachers and staff.
School officials should establish clear visitor entry policies that require visitors to sign in and wear a visitor name badge. This allows staff to identify visitors and take immediate action if necessary.
1. Secure the Exterior
Keeping students, teachers and staff safe from external threats requires limiting access to the school building itself. This involves ensuring that all doors are closed when the building is not in use and providing barriers to prevent vehicles from entering areas where they shouldn’t be.
This is especially important for schools with high traffic volume before and after school when parents, carpool drivers and buses drop off and pick up students. Using perimeter fencing, designated student drop-off zones and centralized parking lots that are monitored by security personnel can limit vehicle access to your campus.
In classrooms, make sure all doors can be locked from the inside and that heavy furniture can be quickly barricaded. This is something that can be done with a minimal investment and it can help prevent an assailant from moving from room to room.
Also consider adding “Building is Secure” signs to all exterior doors. While this may be inconvenient for some, the protocol will ensure that everyone is kept safe. This should be a primary duty of all school security officers to be performed regularly.
2. Implement Video Surveillance
One of the most important elements of school security is controlling access to the building. This includes limiting points of entry to those that are used by students and staff, as well as keeping areas that are locked off when not in use.
A school needs to be able to monitor who enters and exits the premises, especially during after hours and term holiday periods. Many schools also have high-value equipment that they need to protect from theft and vandalism.
Schools should also implement protocols to encourage students and staff to respect security procedures, such as always wearing a visitor badge and not opening classroom doors for anyone else — even if they are visiting parents or friends. This is a critical part of ensuring that students feel comfortable in their learning environment, and it will help to prevent incidents from occurring. Protocols should be adapted to the particular needs of each school, such as establishing classroom safe zones or protection areas, and conducting drills. Teachers can also practice implementing their own classroom safety plans with children, which can be helpful in eliminating psychological insecurity.
3. Install an Access Control System
The security systems and protocols schools have in place should be regularly updated based on newer technologies and methods that are proven to be more effective. School safety plans should be in place with clearly defined actions that are both documented and practiced by students, teachers and staff. Local police officers and hired school security guards should be informed of the plan to help respond quickly if needed.
An access control system is another security protocol that can be implemented to keep unauthorized people out of school buildings and ensure a safe environment inside. This form of security can be installed on doors, gates, barriers and turnstiles to monitor a building’s entrance and exits.
Schools are often full of visitors ranging from parents dropping off their children to colleagues who come in for meetings. An access control system can make it more difficult for unauthorized individuals to enter the school by requiring that anyone who wants to enter must have credentials and present them to the reader or keypad. The system also has anti passback technology that prevents the same credential from being used to enter more than a certain number of times in a given amount of time.
4. Install Alarm Systems
School and college campus security systems need to be able to allow authorized individuals onto the campus and keep unauthorized people out, both during the day when schools are open and at night when they’re closed. Alarm systems are key to these types of school security protocols because they help deter unauthorized entry into facilities by triggering an alarm when they detect a trespasser on the grounds. There must also be a mass notification system whenever there are unauthorized people who might possibly harm students in the school.
School door sensor alarms work well in conjunction with other types of school security systems, like CCTV and access control. They can also be backed up and managed on a single platform, making it easier for teams to monitor these systems and to respond in the event of an incident.
High visibility of these security features also acts as a deterrent, as does funneling students and staff through doors in front of the main office, using shatterproof windows that can be locked from the inside and placing curtains nearby to quickly cover windows and conceal those who are waiting for rescue. These security upgrades can improve perimeter security without altering the learning environment.
5. Install a Fire Suppression System
Schools are tasked with providing an environment that promotes learning in a safe setting. Keeping students and faculty secure requires a comprehensive security program. School administrators and staff are often tasked with drafting active shooter preparedness plans, implementing classroom door locks, conducting fire drills and even enlisting sworn law enforcement officers to patrol their buildings on a regular basis.
A comprehensive perimeter security system can help to deter potential intruders and detect any movements around the site – especially when PTZ cameras are deployed. Visitor management systems can also help to control access to the building, ensuring that guests are properly vetted and escorted when entering the school. A range of access levels can be set to restrict entry to laboratory spaces, IT stores and more.
Installing alarm monitoring systems can help to prevent false alarms that can be triggered by pranksters or those with bad intent. All classrooms should be equipped with two-way communication systems to enable them to call for help immediately. Make sure that all students, teachers and staff have a clear understanding of the school’s security protocols by putting up posters and making them a regular part of student life.
6. Install Fire Extinguishers
The occurrence of school fires can lead to the physical harm of pupils, staff and visitors. It can also damage buildings, ruin the reputation of the school and affect teaching and learning. To ensure the safety of pupils, staff and visitors schools should be able to respond quickly to any threats, especially those outside the building.
To prevent the spread of fire, it is vital to install fire emergency systems in all school buildings. This includes ‘passive fire precautions’ such as fire-rated doors which help to delay the spread of smoke and fire between rooms and can protect the structural integrity of buildings in the event of a fire. Fire extinguishers should be located in key areas, including by exits and science labs where the use of chemicals can pose a risk to pupils.
Specific arrangements must be in place to ensure that all pupils, staff and visitors leave the premises as soon as the fire alarm is sounded. Those arrangements must include designated assembly points, which are clearly marked and easy to identify. Once all parties have gathered at the assembly point, a roll call must be taken to make sure that nobody has been left behind.
7. Install Closed Circuit Television
Many schools have protocols in place for dealing with fires and natural disasters. However, it is important for schools to prepare themselves for security threats as well. This can be done through a comprehensive security plan, which should be documented and all teachers, staff members and students should be familiar with its contents.
Having a CCTV system installed in school buildings allows administrators or security personnel to keep a watchful eye on those entering and exiting the building, preventing any suspicious activity. ANPR systems can also be used to control access to the school’s parking lot, granting entry to only approved vehicles.
It is also important to keep classroom doors locked from the inside to prevent trespassing and to create classroom safe zones for students. It is also recommended that schools have two-way communication systems in classrooms for quick response times in an emergency, as well as a system for reporting any suspicious activity, such as student hotlines or “tell an adult” campaigns. Finally, having a security presence on site by either hired guards or local police will deter anyone from trying to enter the premises illegally.
8. Install Intercom Systems
Schools are soft targets for cybercriminals, and it’s not just students’ private information that is at risk. Hackers have the ability to cause damage to property and create life-threatening situations for both staff and students. Taking proactive steps to shore up security systems can prevent these attacks, making educational institutions more resilient.
Intercom systems provide many benefits to schools, including entry and exit monitoring, communication, paging, and alert notifications. Often used to manage schedules and shifts for front desk security personnel, they ensure that someone is always available to respond to threats.
Intercom systems can help schools keep their students and staff safe by identifying visitors before granting them access to the building. Remote video view enables security guards to verify visitor identities, which helps reduce the likelihood of false alarms or unwelcome guests entering school premises. These systems also come with vandal protection features, such as tamper-proof screws and vandal-resistant buttons, so they can withstand potential damage from intruders or vandalism. Intercom systems with wireless call features allow security guards to communicate remotely, even when they’re on the move, which makes it easier to respond to situations quickly.