Article Review: Security of School Entrances

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Could You Be Doing More?

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How much security are you offering your school’s entrance? How much security is enough? You can install security cameras, but then someone needs to monitor them. You can issue visitor badges, but then someone needs to escort the visitor. After reading this article I realized there are a vast amount of school security features and hardware that are available to boost campus safety. Today, I want to give you an overview of this article and highlight some of the most effective school security options.

The article lists “11 Components of a Secure School Front Entrance,” but the tips listed are effective for securing all areas of a school, not just the front entrance. The writer also introduces us to the idea of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) which includes natural surveillance, access control, and territoriality.

  • Natural surveillance is the idea that people are less likely to commit crimes if they feel they are being watched. Create natural surveillance by increasing visibility and lighting.
  • Access control is decreasing the vulnerabilities of your entrances and increasing the screening process of those entering a facility.
  • Territoriality creates a sense of ownership for those who belong and creates an environment where intruders stand out, such as uniforms or identification badges.

This article focuses one bullet point on the idea of installing a panic button or an intruder alarm in your school, much like at a bank. Let’s take this example, a front desk staff member notices a suspicious visitor entering the building, she doesn’t have time to call 9-1-1 so instead, she pushes a panic button located under the desk, alerting law enforcement of an incident at the school. An intruder alarm differs in the sense that it connects to the school and law enforcement, sending an alert to selected administrators. By using this technology, administrators can be confident that help is on the way, without attracting unwanted attention.

Single point of entry seems to be a trend many schools are upgrading toward because of the effectiveness it provides. In order to have a high standard of access control, you must have a way to monitor and regulate it. Having a single point of entry is one of the easiest ways to achieve that. The article makes a good point by explaining it this way, “For a point of entry to be regulated, no unauthorized person should pass through without drawing the attention of those responsible for the safety of the building.”

A vestibule system is also practical for increasing security at your school. A vestibule entry system works like this: a visitor walks up and is screened outside of the school via an intercom/video call box prior to entry. If the visitor is granted access to the facility, they are funneled through the main office where they are screened again with background checks, etc. and are issued a visitors ID before having access to the rest of the school. This system allows double check points and restricts the access of visitors even further with a series of locked doors, increasing the difficulty of an intruder gaining unwelcome access.

Unfortunately, long gone are the days of simple fire and tornado drills in our education systems. Now teachers and school administrators must plan and practice for crisis situations such as active shooter, or violent intruders. Simply having a visitor write their name, phone number and driver’s license number in a 3-ring binder will no longer suffice as visitor management. There are many systems and hardware available now that are designed to increase school security and must be discussed and decided upon. This article lists 11 ways that you can secure your school’s front entrance, including the 3 that we highlighted here. By implementing some of these security features, you are setting your school or district up for success and mitigating physical damage in the event of an emergency situation.

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