To ensure a safe educational environment your school can take modest measures by assessing your current safety status. The assessment must encompass every aspect and person in the school.
At minimum, the assessment should include:
Safety and Security of Building and Grounds
Securing the building and school grounds is the first step to providing a secure classroom. This can be done by:
- Restricting public access to one entrance and exit.
- Requiring all visitors to check-in and out before entering the school building. Visitors should be designated by a visitors tag or escorted through the building.
- Report suspicious people, items, or activities to the proper authorities.
- Ensure school property boundaries are visually recognized.
- Trim shrubs or other debris to ensure a clear line of sight for safety inspections.
- If needed, fence the school grounds to ensure control over pedestrian access.
- Parking lots or spaces should be designated for staff, students, and visitors. Staff and students should have their vehicles designated with special decals.
- The school should post signage that directs parking and building access.
- Bus traffic should be separated from other vehicular traffic at entrance, exit, and pickup points.
- Restrict access of all play areas to staff and students only.
- Extra buildings located separate from the school building should be secure with locks and restricted access.
- Ensure the entire building is under surveillance at all times. This may be done by cameras or school personnel.
- Roof access ladders, dumpsters, and awnings are located as to restrict access to the school roof.
- Deep recesses in the school building for wings are fenced and well lit.
- Classroom doors should be locked when vacant.
- All external doors should be well lit.
- The parking lots should be uniformly covered with light.
- People picking up children from school should show proper identification that is recorded before the child is released.
- All personnel and students should be issued identification badges. Badges should be visual at all times.
- The School should have a central security alert system (Alarm, Phone System, or Text Messages).
- All hallways and bathrooms should be free of debris and well lit for easy monitoring.
- Cell phones should be banned from school property. Any other available phones should be restricted.
- A two way communication system should be in place between all classrooms and the main office.
- All exterior doors should have non removable hinges.
- All locked exit doors are equipped with panic hardware to allow emergency exit only.
- A master key control system is in operation to monitor keys and access.
- Staff members and students allowed to stay after hours must be logged and sign out when leaving.
- Every classroom, cafeteria, library, office, or computer room doors must be sturdy and able to lock by high security locks.
- One person should be designated as security to ensure, at the end of the day, that all classrooms and offices are locked, all students and staff have exited the building, all exterior doors and windows are secure, the security system is ready, and the exterior is well-lit.
Community Safety Issues
Your institution should analyze community hazards surrounding the school property and bus routes.
For Buses this may include, but not limited to:
- Low water bridges
- Heavily rural or wooded areas
- Areas that are not well lit.
For the school property this may include, but not limited to:
- Dams and rivers
- Drinking Water Supply
- Nuclear or other Power Plants
- Factories or other businesses
- Government Buildings
- Roads and Railroads
Development and Enforcement of Policies
Your school should update its Code of Conduct annually. A well developed code and student manual should discuss the punishments for offenses and how they will be dealt with. Parents and students should be involved in designing and implementing the Code.
In addition, there should be a system in place that will allow students and teachers to anonymously submit incidents, complaints or other problems to the administration. These policies should help facilitate a feeling of communication between the staff, parents, and students. Schools should work to limit the "Snitch Mentality."
Education does not have to be limited by acts of violence. Schools providing a safe environment will foster better communication between staff, parents, and students. Communication can help with solving problems between students or staff that may become out of control and negatively affect the educational atmosphere. Administration must include emergency personnel in all planning procedures and emergency drills. Taking some of these basic steps will better prepare your school to counter school violence
Safety Assessment Links and Documents:
School Safety Assessment Protocol (Provided By Southeast Comprehensive Assistance Center)
Threat Status Alert Worksheet (National School Safety Center)
Threat Assessment in Schools: A Guide To Managing Threatening Situations and To Creating Safe School Climates (Developed by the United States Secret Service and the Department of Education)
School Security Assessment (By Clicking this Link You will Be leaving the Safe Schools Initiative Website.)