Security in Schools: A need for change

Recently, security in schools is at the forefront of the nation’s discussions. What is the best way to keep our kids safe and how far should we go to protect them? A school’s design is paramount when thinking about the safety of the people inside the building. In 2015-16 nearly 94% of schools reported that they control access to schools by locking or monitoring the building's doors. Schools have added resource officers and additional safety measures in the last few years, but this has proven to be insufficient. There are measures that can be taken to ensure our schools are safe.

We have mastered how to keep people securely in buildings, but it has been proven more difficult to keep dangerous people out of buildings, especially while making others feel safe and comfortable. Our firm specializes in security buildings in the public sector. So, how do we secure our buildings better, while allowing students to continue on with their day uninterrupted? We can do this with the advancement of three things:

Use of technology: Technological measures can be taken to help secure a school building. Students and staff should be monitored for safety, but they shouldn’t feel like they are in a police state. We can do this by using video cameras, motion detectors, and even thermal imaging. This would all be fed to a central control room that would be monitored by a security guard. What’s more important is how we stop intruders from coming into the building in the first place. Schools should be equipped with sally port vestibules at all entry points. The first set of door frames would have metal detectors built into the doors. So, if someone came into the first set of doors with a large piece of metal, both sets of doors would lock and sound an alarm to the central control room. Students don’t even need to be aware this is happening.

Building Compartmentation: Building compartmentation already exists for fire wall separation. But what happens if we put that concept toward intruders? This all depends on the design configuration of the school. Wings, hallways, and even rooms can be locked down based on an intruder's location. Think of it this way, if we compartmentalize the building, it limits the intruder's movements and options. It’s like the ring on a target - narrowing down on the center point.

Policies & Procedures: Many schools still use standard lockdown procedures for an active shooter situation, but in recent years the options - based approach, which allows teachers to make decisions on how to protect their students, has grown in popularity. Depending on the design of the building, school districts may need to change the policies or procedures they have in place for an active shooter situation.

From recent events, we know additional security measures need to be taken in schools. There are a lot of concepts that can be taken into consideration. It is up to the school districts and architects to decide those measures. We all want to keep the kids of our country safe.