School security is one of the most sensitive issues facing school staff, administrators, and parents today. No one wants a repetition of headline-hitting crimes that come to mind from recent years. Students have the right to have a safe place to be educated. Teachers and administrators have the right to a safe work environment. Maintaining a balance between having a user-friendly, welcoming school climate and a facility, which is secure from unwanted intruders, should be the goal.
Common sense measures that require little or no funding can go a long way in helping to create a safe environment for all. Having one main entrance in use during the daytime makes the monitoring of guests much easier. All other exterior doors should be locked to those on the outside, but easily opened from the inside. Signs should be placed directing all visitors to the main entrance. Upon entering the school building, guests should be immediately directed to the office and greeted by a receptionist. Establishing a sign-in and sign-out procedure for visitors is an inexpensive but indispensable practice. Educate parents and staff early and often regarding access control policies and the importance of everyone following the rules every time.
Consistency is of greatest importance. Students must be trained to not open doors to strangers, other students, or even adults they may know. All visitors trying to gain access must be directed to the main entrance to gain entry to the school. Playgrounds should only be accessible from inside the school building. Parking areas should be separate from play areas.
Staff should be clear about procedures and be encouraged to greet and challenge visitors, questioning who they are, and what they are doing. Staff should be regularly reminded of their responsibilities. Again, consistency is key.
A clear plan of action should be established and practiced with students and staff in the event an intruder enters the building unwelcome. The established procedure should be posted in classrooms so that substitute staff will also be aware of his or her responsibilities.
Students should understand that practicing for such an event does not mean that the event is anticipated. Practicing intruder drills should be common and comfortable to students, just like fire drills. Parents who are educated about such drills can also help to make students more comfortable by discussing procedures at home.
As students, parents, and staff work together, it is possible to achieve an environment, which promotes safety for all while ensuring that guests who belong feel welcome.
Randel Goad – Mandt Faculty