In 2019, there were about a dozen school shootings across the United States, according to the New York Times. Along with those shootings, countless credible threats were investigated by law enforcement officers, making school safety and security a huge priority for administrators and school superintendents.
Other aspects of school safety include having plans for fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other unanticipated disasters that could befall a school campus. You also need to make sure the outside is as safe as possible while students are in recess or taking physical education classes.
While it is vital to update your school security system, sometimes, districts may not have it in their budget to add in the latest and greatest in technology when they are trying to increase safety. If you are trying to add layers of safety on a limited budget, then there are quite a few ways you can work to make your campus safer for students and faculty. Here are four simple ways you may be able to add extra safety and security to your school.
1. Upgrade the interior and exterior doors.
If your school’s doors are older and not as secure as they could be, then it may be easier for a potential school shooter or unauthorized person to get into the buildings and have access to students and faculty. While some types of doors may be more expensive and out of your budget, it is still vital to ensure that people on your school’s campus are as protected as possible. Consider installing commercial wood doors that will be sturdy and secure, making it more difficult for anyone to access individual classrooms.
Make sure that all faculty and staff know your school’s security plan, which should include bolting all doors shut if they hear an announcement of a suspicious person on campus or that you are going into lockdown. These wooden doors can be secured with deadbolts and other locks to prevent anyone from getting into classrooms. You can get doors with or without windows, and some also come equipped with fire ratings to protect students and teachers if they cannot get out safely.
2. Add to your school security system.
If you do not already have a security system in your school, then you need to have cameras posted throughout the campus so that someone can monitor for any issues and spot possible intruders quickly. In addition, there are also systems where you can install a camera in each classroom. This provides you with an extra eye into the room in case something happens with a teacher or student, and can provide you with backup in case footage is needed as evidence for anything. For example, cameras could help reduce the amount of bullying that goes on in the hallway or other common areas.
Administrators and teachers can also use the footage to analyze student behavior and look for any signs of potentially negative influences in the classroom. They can take this information and use it to their advantage and try to prevent children from taking away important educational time.
Many systems these days are connected to the internet, eliminating the need for DVRs. The systems are also secure, which means it is incredibly difficult for anyone to hack into the feed and see anything unless they have the correct authorization to look at the cameras. It is also easy for administrators to quickly send video to law enforcement officers or parents who may need to see what exactly happened on campus. You will also be able to monitor the campus after hours and see if anyone tries to visit the school at an odd time, potentially preventing vandalism or other illicit activities.
3. Protect students when they are outside.
A vital component of education involves spending time outside, whether it is recreational play for younger students or physical education for older students. No matter the reason, you should work to make sure faculty and students feel safe whenever they leave the classroom to head outside. This may include adding in new fencing around the campus to create a barrier that makes it much more difficult for anyone to get to the children or recruiting new school resource officers to continuously patrol the area and monitor for any potential threats.
While it is important to protect from any humans who may want to cause harm, it is also important to protect the students and teachers from other sinister threats to their health and wellbeing. Depending on what part of the United States your school is in, you may have a wide number of potential issues caused by the animals or insects that call your school campus home. These could include things such as:
Keeping these pests away from playgrounds and other common areas may require routine applications of snake repellent, insect control, or natural mosquito repellent. These will help reduce the number of pests and mitigate the risks associated with insect stings and bites, such as swelling, allergic reactions, or harmful diseases such as West Nile virus, encephalitis, and more. Make sure to include outdoor pest control in your school budget every year so that your students and teachers are shielded from these types of threats.
4. Put in new security measures at the front office.
Many schools have recently installed new security measures in the front office–the main door where visitors would come and go. Before these measures, anyone could open the door and walk on the inside, leaving the office and the rest of the school open to attack. Instead of letting this practice continue, you can put in a new level of security that prevents anyone from coming in unless they are permitted to do so.
When a visitor walks up to the door, they have to press a button that will ring a bell in the office. Office staff can then look at a camera to determine who they should or should not let inside. Once they decide the person is OK to let in, they can press a button on their end that unlocks the door so that they can come in and conduct whatever business they may have on-campus that day. This can help cut down on unauthorized visitors, as the person will still have to check-in and the office staff will need to call down to the teacher to verify that they are there to meet with them or volunteer in their classroom.
Updating your school’s safety and security may seem like a daunting task, but implementing at least these four simple steps should help as you work toward the goal of having a safe and secure campus. Even if you are on a tight budget, these steps are relatively easy to start and continue using for years to come. As the years pass, you can add on more and more security measures with your new budget each year. If you can’t do everything at once, at least try to pick out two or three that you can do now so that the buildings are safer than they were the year before, giving students, faculty, staff, and parents peace of mind about their school.
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