Creating a School Security Plan: Six Key Steps
The school year may be ending, but your work to secure your school should continue throughout the summer months to ensure that you have a safe and secure learning atmosphere for your students next fall. In fact, the summer months are a perfect time to evaluate your school security plan and ensure that there are no gaps.
In fact, some states require published School Safety Plans, School Safety Audits and School Safety Drills.
It is also a good time to review new best practices that have been established by organizations such as the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools, DHS, National Association of Pupil Service Administrators, National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officials and more.
Many school safety and security plans include six key components; below is clarification on the roles and responsibilities included in each.
- Policies and Procedures
Review all of the protocols you currently have in place for lockdowns, evacuations, and parent-student reunification procedures. You should also consider your plan for mobilizing school transportation during the school day, as well as emergency communications protocols with parents and the media, and the mobilization of mental health services when needed.
Schools should consider implementing an incident management system that enables administration to host a security plan, assign it as mandatory reading material for specific employees, and ensure comprehension through testing as part of employment contracts.
- The Team (Roles and Training)
The team component focuses on training school administrators, teachers, and support staff on school threat assessment, school violence prevention, crime prevention practices, security procedures and awareness, and school emergency planning best practices. It is most important to create a security team that incorporates key stakeholders from your school, such as an experienced security director, a security/systems integrator and/or consultant, an IT director and local police and fire and first response teams.
Hold regular meetings with your public safety partners such as police, fire, emergency medical services, and emergency management agencies. These meetings should be used to discuss safety, security, and emergency planning strategies, any shortfalls, and how strategies and personnel within those agencies might have changed over the course of the past school year.
- Security Technology
Security technology such as access control and video surveillance is an essential component of a school security plan, and you should conduct regular reviews of what you have in place to identify any gaps. Controlling access to school property, buildings and classrooms is a responsibility of school administrators, and many schools and districts have invested in electronic access control features that allow for enhanced security. A video surveillance system provides deterrence and detection and, with advanced solutions, can reduce police and emergency response times. Identification and background check solutions should be used to identify staff, students, volunteers and visitors. Incident & Emergency Management Systems (including lockdown systems) are available to schools to instantly alert administrators, guards, teachers, students, staff, parents, and more to any threats on your campus. Adopting an integrated, cloud-based, visitor management and incident/emergency management system should be a high priority for every school. Cloud-based will interface with HRMS, SIS, Video Surveillance, Door Locking, and other types of pertinent data-related or security-related systems, saving seconds when they count most.
Communication beyond normal telephone, fax and email is an essential component. A wide-area two-way radio system and a trunked radio system can help you to communicate quickly and easily with all school personnel. An integrated Visitor Management / Incident Management system should allow you to communicate in at least 4 ways, simultaneously – including email, text, mobile push notifications, and web push notifications. You need to be able to link multiple teams across the district and deliver as much information as quickly as possible to staff instantly and securely. Beyond that, you should have Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) to establish protocols with emergency responders for threat information sharing and building access, in addition to MOUs with hospitals, religious organizations, community centers and the Red Cross.
- Recovery Plans
No one wants to think about the need to recover from a school security incident, but this step should be considered. School employees should understand their roles and expectations in responding to an emergency, both during and after the event. You and your team have a responsibility to parents and school personnel to provide direct support and serve as the liaison between community resources and those in need, including both short- and long-term recovery. Your plans should include monitoring and responding to student and staff health status along with mental health and psychological response.
While your schools will soon be empty for the next few months due to summer vacation, now is the time to review your school security plan and ensure that it’s up to date, includes all the necessary components, and creates a safe and secure learning environment.
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