How to Secure Your School: Six Steps for Improvement

June 25, 2019

There are several different ways we can help schools with physical security needs. Examples include active shooter situations, family abductions, problematic teacher/student relations, as well as vandalism. The unfortunate reality of today is that these scenarios, almost unthinkable a generation ago, have occurred with increasing frequency. Schools today regularly practice ‘active shooter’ drills, complete with classroom lockdowns and door barricades.

Given the tragic events over the last several years that involved multiple school shootings, in addition to the more than 840,000 registered sex offenders nationwide, the challenge of effectively protecting students and faculty becomes even more complex.

From a technological and procedural standpoint, a school district should examine the six basic building blocks of security: access control, visitor management, video surveillance, emergency response, mass notification/alerting, door barricade solutions.  The TSA is at the forefront of layered security in airports. Their strategies can be used to make schools safer.

  1. Access Control – A recent U.S. study showed that the majority of schools do not have the physical means to perform a full-blown lock-down in the event of an emergency. The ability to adequately control doorways to a school must be the first step in a security plan. The policy is simple – no one in and no one out (except security personnel). A sealed building makes situational control easier. Education of all staff and students is critical – do not open a door for anyone!
  2. School Visitor Management software is quickly emerging as a staple in the school security market. Businesses have been using this type of software for a long time, but they need security for other, different reasons. They are more concerned about disappearing assets. You need this technology to help protect your most valuable asset: your students.
  3. Intelligent Video Surveillance Technology – This layer of security is a must. A 24/7 record of what goes on within the buildings is necessary and is being used successfully in any number of other industries and in the general public to solve crimes. Intelligent video technology can help with bullying, student-teacher relations and vandalism.
  4. Emergency Response Plan – Having a plan in place for threats from unwanted visitors and having a plan to immediately assess the threat of a visitor, information about the visitor and planning on what to do in case of an emergency is an important part of using the implemented technology in the first place.
  5. Mass Notification System – If something happens, you need to be able to notify everyone instantly, including students. These alerts should be in the form of instant text messages or HTML e-mails sent by a receptionist to warn police or key district personnel of an impending situation or unwanted visitor and have the ability to segment the message so only the appropriate and necessary people get each message.
  6. Door Barricade System – The standard protocol for most of the schools in our country is based on the ALICE (Alert, Lock Down, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) Training Institute’s methodology for active shooter scenarios. First of all, let us establish the two types of scenarios. The first is a targeted shooter. This is where the gunman is targeting a specific individual. He has ONE intention and that is killing his SPECIFIC target. The other scenario is a mass casualty shooter who just wants to inflict as much harm as possible.  Under the LockDown part of the acronym, most security experts will tell you to the best way to minimize casualties in a MASS CASUALTY scenario is to secure as many kids as you can in the classrooms.

Unfortunately in any one of these scenarios, there will be what is called soft targets. This could be front office personnel, kids moving between classes, kids on a playground, but the ABSOLUTE best way to protect as many kids as possible is to temporarily barricade the classroom door. A mass shooter will quickly move on to soft targets once he realizes the classroom can’t be breached.

Konica Minolta has done its part to help meet these special school security needs through a portfolio of solutions that include our SchoolGate Guardian School Visitor Management system, Classroom Guardian door barriers and All Covered’s Education Technology Assessments.  More information about these offerings can be found here.

Stephanie Keer
Manager, Government and Education Solutions

Stephanie Keer is responsible for Konica Minolta’s Education and Government vertical markets, focusing on solutions that improve efficiencies in education. She is a Professor at NYU and the Lead Researcher of Living Values Education Organization. She is an avid scuba diver and meditator.