During a violent incident on a school campus, response time is imperative to minimizing the attacker’s impact. Part of a good emergency preparedness plan is to have a clear understanding of how emergency personnel will access campus buildings during and after an incident. But due to the chaos of the event and all of the locked and barricaded doors, safely admitting first responders to a locked-down campus can be complicated.
That’s why school emergency response planning must include all stakeholders, including local first responder organizations. It’s also another reason why it’s so important for schools and law enforcement to maintain close ties and open lines of communication. When these two bodies work together, they can prepare students and staff for the best possible outcomes to worst-case events.
Campus security has come a long way in the past two decades. There are so many technological tools available that it can be hard to determine which ones will make the biggest impact on your school’s safety. When you’re figuring out how to give lockdown access to authorized personnel, there are some outstanding systems that perfectly fit that purpose. Here are a few tools to consider when developing your school campus or district’s school emergency procedures with your local police and fire departments.
Tools for Streamlining School Emergency Procedures
A visitor management system allows your gatekeepers — the front office staff — to closely monitor who’s coming and going through the office. It makes the front office the single point of entry for students, staff, and visitors. As everyone funnels through the office they also scan their assigned ID cards. Visitors must stop and register with the front office staff before they can enter campus. During the registration process, a great visitor management system will identify registered sex offenders with a swipe of their driver’s license. It’s almost like running a background check on people trying to enter campus!
A robust visitor management system will also instantly flag banned visitors and prevent them from entering campus. This can be a welcome layer of protection for students and staff dealing with domestic violence and it’s a critical first step in protecting your whole campus from unwanted intruders.
How Do Police Enter Campus When It’s Locked Down?
Smart card reader systems help administrators keep track of students throughout a normal school day and during emergencies. These devices also prevent unauthorized people from accessing campus. Some schools install smart card readers at every classroom door, which offers an added level of security during an incident. With this level of security protecting every building and classroom on campus, it’s important that first responders have the equipment they need to enter when necessary.
An emergency response plan must have a work-around for this situation. The simplest solution is to issue smart cards to the local fire and police departments. This solution is far more favorable than designating a staff member to allow first responders through a specific door. Conducting a thorough risk assessment of the school property can help determine the safest doors on campus for this purpose. However, this process will put at least one staff member in harm’s way. It’s a risk not worth taking, especially when there is a simple, feasible alternative.
How to Prepare Students for a Lockdown Event
Lockdown drills can be a laughing matter for some students, and a frightening episode for others. But drills are how we practice and prepare for an actual violent event. Taking those drills seriously can save lives. The older your students are, the more aware they are of the violence wrought on our schools. To help students better cope with the trauma of campus violence and the subsequent lockdown, set student expectations from the start.
Teachers must coach students to ensure that everyone understands what will happen during a lockdown, and what students should do during these events. School leadership must also share lockdown procedures and communication channels with parents. All of these conversations will help set a serious tone and high expectations for lockdown drills.
Help students understand that the officers responding to the event don’t know how many attackers there are, who they are, or where they are. When officers begin clearing the campus room by room, students should expect officers to speak to them loudly and sternly. Instruct students to follow directions quickly and accurately as officers begin clearing students and staff from campus. Ideally, police should be available to personally talk to students and help them understand the process they would use to clear classrooms and hallways after an attack. Not only does this provide students with first-hand information about what to expect, but it introduces them to at least one police officer who may be there to protect them after a violent incident at their school.
How ScholarChip Can Enhance Your School Emergency Procedures
ScholarChip is a leader in the campus safety industry. We create tools and systems that enhance student learning, streamline everyday procedures, and protect campuses from violence.
ScholarChip offers a solution called Alternative Behavior Educator (ABE). This innovative program enables school leaders to identify, monitor, and improve student behavior throughout a student’s career, while giving administrators and teachers powerful data-driven reports that quickly flag at-risk students, help monitor and chronicle progress, and identify potential student safety risks before incidents arise. The ScholarChip system incorporates the complete spectrum of behavior and integrates student rewards, interventions, and tracking with PowerSchool®, Infinite Campus, and other popular SIS platforms.
To see how ScholarChip can help keep your schools safer, learn more about the many solutions ScholarChip provides, or to get free recommendations, feel free to contact one of our specialists today!