There is no shortage of security vendors coming out of the woods these days, peddling products that range from bullet-proof back packs to multi-million dollar school building hardware upgrades to be designated the safest school in America. Of course the designation was made by the security company installing the system.
We hear daily from schools all across the U.S. that they have vendor fatigue. Most of what they are been peppered with are products that do not move the safety needle and will do little to keep schools safe.
Many times we can bring a team of experts together for a simple school walk through with your administration, SRO’s, school safety specialists and principals and pinpoint dozens of items that cost nothing or very little to fix. I told a school this week that until they had locks on doors, controll who had access to their schools and address the side and rear doors that are either unlocked or propped open that it made no sense to spend tens of thousands of dollars on sophisticated security systems.
The first step is to start with a visitor management system for schools that manages the flow of all visitors. Until you know who is entering your schools, all other security systems are rendered useless.
It is also to keep a broad definition of school safety. Too often these days school safety has become synonymous with active shooter response. Truthfully, even after a week where we had active shooter events at the Southaven Walmart, El Paso Walmart and Dayton, OH, active shooter events in schools are still statistically very low. That does NOT mean we should not be developing security plans and procedures.
However, it is statistically more likely that a child will be sexually exploited at school. So knowing who walks through your doors is critical.
What should you look for in a visitor management system for schools?
Is it cloud-based so it connects the entire campus?
Can it flag excluded parties who have posed a danger to the school?
Does it integrate with other security systems to create an integrated solution?
Does it allow you to create comprehensive and specific screening packages for your different visitors (volunteers, contractors, community partners, etc)?
Does it integrate with your student information system like Skyward, PowerSchool, Infinite Campus?
Do you have real-time arrest monitoring?