10 Ways to Create Safer School Entrances

Visitor management, video surveillance, staff training and more, are key components of K-12 security.

In the wake of recent incidents of school violence like those at Arapahoe High School, Sparks Middle School and Sandy Hook Elementary, K-12 schools around the country have invested heavily in their security infrastructure and in boosting access control. Of the many ways a school can begin to promote safety, the easiest and most effective place to start is the front door. Using a combination of technology and good safety policies, you can take important steps to keep your campus secure.

This was the basis of K-12 TechDecisions recent free webcast, “10 Ways to Create Safe School Entrances,” with panelists Scott Lord, director of Innovation and National Accounts, All Systems, and Guy Grace, director of Security and Emergency Planning, Littleton, Co, Public Schools.

Here are ten steps you can take to make your school entrances safer.

1. Perform a Safety Audit

“Before we even look at any technological solutions, a district should really look at its overall security threats and risks,” says Lord. A safety audit can help a school identify its weaknesses and come up with a plan to combat those issues. The audit can be performed by a hired security consultant or an integrator. Either would have the knowledge to assist a school or district in tackling safety concerns.

An audit would look at several key things:

  • How are you locking doors?
  • Where are there line of sight issues?
  • Is there a playground or athletic field that needs to be monitored?
  • How do visitors enter the facility?
  • How do people move about the facility/How do you keep control over that?

The end result of a safety audit is that a district has identified areas where there is a need for more security and it can begin to look at the ways in which staff training or technology may help to fill some of those gaps. 

2. Identify a Single Point of Entry

“It’s my thought that in a K-8 school, a single point of entry that does visitor management screening is one of the single most important security measures that should be implemented,” says Grace.
For example, visitors to the Littleton School District must interact with a call box and identify themselves to the front office staff before entering the building. Parents are required to keep their contact information up-to-date and to notify the school of any changes or any person who may need to be at the school on their behalf. If a staff member does not recognize someone and they are not listed on the parents’ contact sheet, that person will not be allowed into the building.

At a high school, where an open campus policy may be in place, it’s important you limit the number of doors that are open and that you have some way of monitoring those doors by having a police officer present or through video surveillance.

3. Create Visitor Policies and Procedures

These can be as simple or as complicated as you would like them to be. There is a tiered system when it comes to technology that begins with a simple buzzer, but can can be as advanced as a system that will take images or video of anyone entering the building. The same is true of policies and procedures. Visitors can sign into a handwritten log or their information can be scanned through a software program that checks national databases looking for any record of federal or state criminal activity.

Lord also points out that having visitors take the step of identifying themselves to a staff member is a major deterrent to any criminal activity.

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Campus Safety magazine is another great resource for public safety, security and emergency management professionals. It covers all aspects of campus safety, including access control, video surveillance, mass notification and security staff practices. Whether you work in K-12, higher ed, a hospital or corporation, Campus Safety magazine is here to help you do your job better!

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