There are many threats facing schools. They range from parking lot smash-and-grabs to school shootings. Each incident is a reminder of just how important safe school systems are to society, and that’s why we are here with our complete guide to school security.
Enhancing the security of your school doesn’t need to be difficult. Solink has video surveillance solutions tailored to the school and campus setting. With lower installation costs and no long-term contract to sign, Solink makes it easier for schools to budget for security.
If you are looking to expand the security measures on your school campus, please reach out for a Solink demo today.
The threats schools face
Many different types of incidents affect schools. Some of them are the same ones faced by other buildings and properties, while others are unique to schools and campuses. However, even when the threats appear similar to those found elsewhere, the fact that schools are filled with children, and educators have a duty of care to protect their pupils, means that the security requirements can be very stringent.
Here are just some of the threats faced by schools today:
- Shootings and other violent intruder events
- Parking lot theft
When people think about the threats schools face, the first ones that come to mind are shootings. That’s not surprising because school shootings have been increasing over the last 30 years, and the death tolls of active shooter events on school campuses have also been increasing.
These events devastate students, parents, teachers, staff—really everyone. While all the other threat events occur more often, their impact generally cannot compare to the impacts of active shooter events
While active shooters are the school violence events that make the news, they aren’t the only ones that occur. People come armed with other weapons as well, including knives.
Bullying affects many students. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that about 21% of students between the ages of 12 and 18 experienced bullying during the 2014-2015 academic year.
While most minds jump to active shooter events when they hear the words “school” and “violence” used together, bullying is experienced by far more students. It’s also a threat that can be mitigated with well-designed school security measures.
With Solink, you have access to the previous month or more of video footage so you can find evidence of bullying claims, which can help resolve these situations.
Vandalism is a common occurrence for schools. Windows can be broken, walls tagged with graffiti, and outdoor assets (such as bleachers or playgrounds) destroyed. These added expenses eat into the budget with costly repairs and replacements of equipment. It can even increase insurance premiums.
It is understandable that vandalism (and the next topic, parking lot theft) doesn’t get the same attention in the school security discussions as bullying and violence. However, it is still a real threat, and the right school surveillance system can reduce its occurrence.
Parking lot theft
Some of the most expensive equipment found on school campuses do not belong to the school. They are the cars owned by staff, teachers, and some older students. Similar to office parking lots, thieves know that they can run smash-and-grabs on dozens of cars in a school parking lot, and the crime might not be discovered for several hours since teachers and students are busy working.
Solink offers a video analytics platform that gives school administrators the ability to search through hours of video footage in minutes. With no servers to maintain or long-term contracts, our solution can be customized to the specific needs of schools and campuses.
To see how Solink can help protect your staff and students, sign up for a demo today.
School security principles
The best security plans for schools include provisions for both the daily incidents of bullying, theft, and vandalism as well as proactive procedures in place for major incidents including active shooter events. Here are three high-level ideas to improve school security.
Proactive response that includes students
It is important to build your school security strategy proactively. This means making sure you have all the necessary infrastructure in place, all key stakeholders are trained to use your school security system, and there are set procedures to be followed during each type of incident. Finally, students and staff should practice those procedures. Waiting until an event is underway to see if you know how to use your school security system is a recipe for disaster.
Preemptive school security should include all the community stakeholders, including staff, teachers, and the police—but also your students. Having student ambassadors involved in the construction and operation of your security system is a way to build trust within the student body.
Control access to the school and campus
Access control is a primary part of perimeter security. Schools have two perimeters that should be controlled. The outer perimeter is the property line. Many schools have security fencing around their property. This limits the way visitors can enter the property, which helps funnel legitimate visitors through the main gate and protect students while outside.
The second perimeter includes all the points of entrance to the school building. This includes all the doors and windows (including any loading dock, operational doors, etc.). All of these points should be restricted and monitored.
However, the level of security needs to be balanced with the true aim of schools—to foster a learning environment.
Discreet cameras, funneling traffic through doors in front of the main office, and using shatterproof glass windows are ways to improve the perimeter security of your school without altering the learning environment.
During active shooter events, staff and students are trained to wait in classrooms for rescue.
Here are some of the ways a classroom may be discreetly fortified:
- Put locks on doors that can be controlled from the inside.
- Use shatterproof windows with locking mechanisms, while still allowing them to be opened wide enough for children to escape through them if necessary.
- Have curtains available to cover the windows to conceal anyone taking refuge.
- Put large, bulletproof cabinets on walls near doors that can be slid to block the door if necessary.
- Make sure that teachers have access to phones in their classroom to call for assistance as well as quietly notify the rest of staff to the presence of an intruder.
Key components of a strong school security plan
Here is a more concrete summary of everything you should consider including in your school security system:
- Security cameras
- Video analytics
- Access control
- Locks on all doors, including to classrooms and other interior doors.
- Alarm system (consider video alarms for a modern, more effective approach)
- School security officers
- Student and teacher ID
Note that, while many of the requirements are the same in daycares, their security needs are unique. That’s why we summarize daycare security systems in a separate article.
School video surveillance systems have two main components: security cameras and video analytics. While some might stop at installing security cameras on their campus, this will provide less effective security. It’s important to be able to review footage, share live feeds with the police or fire department, be able to look at video days or weeks after an event occurred, set up video alarms, and more.
Let’s take a look at the two components separately.
School security cameras deter violence and other criminal activity. Violence, bullying, and vandalism are more likely to be caught and the perpetrator punished if there is video evidence of the incident. In addition, video surveillance of schools can help mitigate the loss of life and injuries during active shooter events if the police are able to monitor live video feeds in real time.
Here are some of the places you should consider placing security cameras in your school:
- Hallways and corridors
- Parking lots and sports fields
- Gyms, auditoriums, and cafeterias
- Communication systems
There are many types of security cameras. Most schools will use a combination of the following three types of security cameras:
- Bullet security cameras
- 360 degree security cameras
- Dome security cameras
Solink provides a cloud video surveillance solution that is designed for schools and campuses. With Solink’s Video Alarms, you can set up alarms to be notified when someone is near doors during school hours as well as at night.
You can keep an eye on the entire campus, from the parking lot to hallways and classrooms. We offer secure video storage with a hybrid on-site and cloud system. With 30, 60, or 90 days of video storage, you can track down video evidence of events that occurred weeks earlier.
During incidents such as active shooter events, you can share live footage of the school with the police in real time using email so they know exactly how to react in the safest and fastest way possible.
To see how Solink can integrate with your school security infrastructure, sign up for a demo today.
Access control, door locks, and fencing
While access control, door locks, and fencing are distinct components of a school security plan, they are all part of perimeter security. Let’s take a look at each part separately.
School visitor access management
Visitor access management at schools is more the process than the infrastructure. It is using access control systems, fences, door locks, gates, etc. to control how visitors enter and leave your school.
This makes it so that visitors around campus can be quickly recognized and reported as unusual.
Having all doors locked all the time could pose new dangers. For example, it’s important that people be able to escape the building if there is a fire. It might also change the school environment too much if students needed to lock and unlock classroom and washroom doors to use the facilities.
However, locks are not an all-or-nothing proposition. Teachers should be able to lock the doors and windows in their classrooms. Furthermore, some doors can be exits-only with the door able to be opened from the inside only.
There are also “smart locks” that allow the administrators to lock all doors from the front office in the case of an event.
Items are damaged when transported, on the shelf, or in the back room. Maintaining a clean and organized store front and back room can reduce the likelihood of merchandise being damaged.
Solink allows you to video audit stores for regulatory and company policy compliance from head office. Being able to see in minutes whether the back rooms of all your locations are neat and tidy will help reduce shrinkage due to damaged products.
Most school campuses have fencing around the property. While many people might not think about the security value of fences when looking at them, it does reduce the ways into the property. This makes fencing a great example of the ideal school security infrastructure. It blends into the background, keeping students and teachers safe without affecting the learning environment.
Alarm systems help protect schools after hours, on weekends, and all summer long while the building is mostly unoccupied. Going one step further, Solink’s Video Alarms Service provides more options on when and how the alarm system can be activated.
You could, for example, have alarms activated in hallways near entrances between classes when they should be empty. In addition, you could have alarms activated on secondary exits activated outside of lunch hours when no one should be using them.
School security officers (or school resource officers)
Some schools may feel it is necessary to have security officers in place during the entire school day. Even if that’s not the case, most schools will have a dedicated school resource officer assigned to them.
This officer will be on campus on specific days as well as make random appearances to deter criminal activity. They will also be there to help students and staff, keep people safe, and advise on general security issues.
Whether you need a full-time security officer should be decided on a per school basis.
Student and teacher ID
A lot of schools issue students and teachers ID. Aside from getting a discount at some retailers, they often aren’t used for much. However, providing students and teachers with ID cards and then making sure they are holding them when found in the hallways during class hours or requiring them to be carried to enter the school provides enhanced school security.
Solink improves the security of your school
Solink brings advanced video analytics to your school campus so you can protect your students and property from all threats. Solink can deter theft and vandalism, improve incident response, and help staff follow-up on bullying claims.
To see how Solink can help your educational institution, sign up for a demo today.