A growing number of high-profile school shootings in the US over the past couple of decades have brought school safety and security into the spotlight. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be something that is going to change anytime soon. Whether it’s an elementary school, middle school, high school, or university campus, all school administrations should put plans and security measures in place to protect students and staff in the unfortunate event of an armed school intruder on the premises.
In this article, we will explore how to make schools safe from intruders, and ways you can keep your school safe and prepared for such an occurrence.
1. Encourage Awareness and Communication
The worst way to prepare for school intruders is to ignore the issues that cause school shootings in the first place. Administrations should provide training to their staff on how to identify warning signs that a student may carry out a violent attack on school grounds.
Information on the matter should also be provided to students and parents, along with a clear procedure for reporting concerns about a student to the administration. That way, administrators can conduct a threat assessment together with mental health professionals and law enforcement to evaluate the risk and probability of a violent incident.
Well-trained staff, along with informed students and parents, can be all it takes to prevent a tragic incident from occurring on campus. Though there is no single indicator that someone is a risk to school safety, an attack rarely occurs without some prior warning signs. If people know how to spot the signs of mental health issues and indicators of violent behavior, as well as the know-how to communicate about these issues, tragedies can be prevented.
2. Have a Plan of Action
All schools should have an organized, systematic emergency operations plan in place to reduce risks or prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from a crisis situation. Intruder drills can be scary for everyone involved. It’s therefore vital that schools clearly communicate with teachers, parents, students, school neighbors, and local law enforcement the purpose and scope of the drill.
The last thing anyone wants is to create an atmosphere of fear that traumatizes students, teachers, staff, and parents. As such, this type of drill should never be conducted without an effort to interface with all stakeholders beforehand.
Here are some examples of drills that can be practiced beforehand to prepare for an intruder.
What to do when a hostile person(s) is actively causing deadly harm or the imminent threat of deadly harm within a building
If you are a teacher and you have small children in your care getting the children to follow a drill may be more challenging. In any case, keeping the children calm and quiet is crucial.
- Make sure doors to classrooms are closed and locked.
- Turn all lights and audio equipment off.
- Do not sound the fire alarm. A fire alarm would signal the occupants in the rooms to evacuate the building and thus place them in potential harm as they attempted to exit.
- Window shades are pulled down.
- Stay away from windows.
- Any windows in doors are covered (to prevent an intruder from seeing into the room).
- Students are moved to the safest part of the room, away from windows and doors, to the interior walls.
- Everyone drops to the floor or out of the line of vision from the door.
- Try to stay calm and be as quiet as possible.
- Don't stay in the open hall.
3. What About Safety Equipment for Your Classroom?
There are numerous code-friendly solutions that provide safety for faculty and students while meeting Fire and Life Safety regulations. While there are many security options you can take to help protect your students and your campus in the event of a security breach, door barricades are among the top contenders. Here, is a brief rundown of the hardware options:
Security Bars and Door Jammers
A door security bar is a metal tube that is placed against the doorknob and rests on the floor. The bottom has a rubber stopper that will not skid or move on the floor when pushed. It is easily adjustable and can fit most door sizes. It is simple to set up, but it may not be the best option if you have carpeted flooring. Carpet can make it easier for an intruder to push the security bar aside.
Deadbolt locks are one of the strongest options in door security. They have a unique locking device that cannot be forced back into the door, preventing unwanted entry with a simple turn of the lock.
Security Window Shades
Classroom window covers are a simple solution for keeping classrooms protected in an active shooter situation.
You may be wondering, how are school security shades over the windows going to help in the event of a shooter? They help in two ways.
1. School security window shades prevent the perpetrator from seeing what's on the other side of the window or door, making them much less likely to enter. If you could try, think about it from a shooter's perspective; they don't know what's on the other side of that door or window. For all they know, there could be a trap waiting for them.
2. Security shades also protect the students inside the classroom from witnessing whatever is going on outside the classroom. This may help them stay calmer and less likely to panic.
An investment in the tools and resources for improving school security and safety is always a good investment. Get everyone involved, including students, faculty, and parents, to increase awareness and participation in safety initiatives. Promote accessible, anonymous reporting tools and reward those who use them. Train often to make sure everyone knows how to react in the event of an incident. Above all, take action now to ensure your school is as prepared as possible.
To find out how to purchase and safely install some of the equipment listed above, request a quote: