Preparedness & Response

School safety preparedness and response measures include several key components:  physical environments, technical systems, school policy (emergency response plans), and ERP training.

Physical Preparedness

Guiding Purpose:

  • Upholding good design practices, maintaining spaces that are appropriate for education;
  • Security and Design must have a symbiotic relationship;
  • Incremental approaches to creating safer schools can be applied to both new facilities and existing facilities;
  • Good design can be cost effective;
  • Every child should have a safe place to learn;
  • Safe schools require a holistic security design approach that includes participation and input from all stakeholders and be able address all varieties of emergencies (not just the installation of security products and technology, etc.).

School Planning/Design

Step 1: Participatory Design & Community Engagement

During the design process, architects and their clients are charged with ensuring that various stakeholders participate in conversations around security and safety. The design phase is the best time for these conversations to begin, for proper funding to be allocated, and for all parties to feel engaged way before the first sketch is even conceived. Architects shall serve as facilitators of these conversations in order to collect stakeholder interests and goals. Various stakeholders can range from school administration and staff, to parents, to local police and public officials, and to community neighbors. These conversations should ensure that design, policy and culture work in cohesion after schools open for operation. A thoughtfully designed school with various security features, but lacking in policy and cultural support, will ultimately fail.

 Step 2: Know the Threat

Prior to implementing design solutions, it is important to ground the project in facts, historic data, and statistics pertaining to the local community and relevant precedents. Architects and administration should be prepared to answer crucial questions about school security and safety, alternative methods of design, the most recent legislative measures, and most importantly – what threats they are dealing with. There are various types of threats that can affect a student’s day including, but not limited to: sexual harassment, bullying and virtual bullying, weapons, active shooters, bomb threats, natural disasters, fires, and so on. Furthermore, architects must share knowledge on how design and security can work hand-in-hand to produce a beautiful school that will promote healthy learning and ensure student success. Architects should set the stage and guide conversations towards meaningful, long-lasting and sustainable solutions. These solutions should address various places: Inside the school, on school grounds, the student’s journey to school, and off-school grounds where school activities take place.

 Step 3: Designing for Safety

Policy recommendations related to each design feature:
Employ CPTED Principles:

  1. Natural Surveillance
  2. Natural Access Control
  3. Territorial Reinforcement
  4. Maintenance

Use a “Concentric Rings of Security”
Provide “Shelter-in-place” spaces
Establish and practice an “Escape” plan

Site Design Best Practices

  • A child’s journey begins at home - walking, riding the yellow school bus using, pick-up / drop-off, mass transit that may not necessarily be under the control of the designer, but are issues that must be considered in planning for a safe school environment.
  • Appropriate site lighting levels
  • Landscaping that does not permit individuals to hide (themselves or other objects)
  • Landscaping designed to provide clear lines of sight
  • Proper delineation of school property (materials, signage, fencing, landscaping, etc.)
  • Avoid siting the building in a manner such that it allows for dark corners, hiding places, etc.
  • Provide proper vehicular traffic separation from  buses
  • Use bollards, berms, etc.to prevent use of vehicles to damage the building.

 

Building Design Best Practices

  • Provide a secure entry that is clearly identifiable
    • Restrict public access to building to a single secure entry
    • Minimize other entrances and equip egress doors w/door contacts, position switches, etc. that can send notifications to staff when doors are left open
    • Secure entry should require direct interaction with main office staff member prior to allowing access to office area or remainder of building
    • Equip entrance and contiguous office areas w/ access controls/emergency lock-down hardware to prevent/delay intruders from gaining access to the remainder of the building.
    • Equip office area w/ multiple secure lock down “buttons” to enable lock down.
    • Allow for clear sightlines to the exterior and main interior corridors; staff should be strategically located to have consistent access to these sightlines
    • If clear sightlines are not possible, supplement w/ video surveillance systems.
    • Consider displaying video surveillance capabilities, such that the public recognizes that they are being monitored while on site.
    • Provide specific resources in the office area to help dissuade the need to gain access to other parts of the building (public toilet facilities, conference rooms, etc.)
    • Consider strategic use of shatter resistant glazing films and / or ballistic glazing at secure entrance vestibule.
    • Remove fire alarm pull stations from secure entry vestibule (may require special permission from the AHJ.
    • Lock-down to enable automatic emergency dial-out

 

  • Strategic Building Separation
    • Where possible, separate regularly occupied student spaces from “public” spaces (lobbies, commons areas, activities areas) with cross corridor separations.
      • Classrooms wings or pods can be tied into the access control system for automatic lockdown
      • Interface cross corridor fire separation w/ building access controls
      • Provide separate entrance(s) for public spaces that need to be occupied separately from the remainder of the building.

 

  • Strategic use of Transparency
    • “Eyes on the Street” concept, provide both interior and exterior glazing
    • Use of this strategy to deter bullying

 

  • Classroom Security
    • Classroom door hardware:
      • Ability to be always locked or lockable from inside the classroom
      • Consider barricade devices that are approved by the AHJ
      • Minimize glazing to prevent visibility, physical access to the lockset from the corridor side to prevent gaining physical access to the space via glazed openings.
      • Consider protective glazing films or ballistic glazing at classroom entrances.
      • Provide shades to conceal glazed openings

 

  • Create shelter-in-place areas within the classroom
    • Strategically located opaque walls that allow students to hide outside the line of sight
    • Consider using ancillary classrooms spaces - toilet rooms, small group instruction rooms, storage rooms - as part of shelter in place strategy
  • Emergency Egress
    • Consider multiple points of egress to allow for escape within the building or to the exterior.
  • Use of Technology
    • To Provide
      • Video Surveillance
      • Access Controls
      • Gunfire Sensors (ShotSpotter)
      • Glass breakage detection
      • Mass notification systems
      • Intercom systems
      • Visitor management systems

 

  • Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)
    • Provide students with spaces necessary to facilitate access to resources, such as counselors, social workers, etc.
    • Spaces that facilitate healthy social interactions - natural light, views, etc.
    • De-escalation spaces
    • Small Learning Communities offer the possibility of breaking larger schools down into smaller environments to foster positive relationships and trust between staff and student, as well as amongst the student body.

 

Technology/ Electronic Preparedness and Response – includes:

  1. Electronic Monitoring,
  2. Access Control Measures,
  3. Mass Notification Methods

As school districts face an increase in the number and variety of risks (both physical- and technologically-focused), an integrated and holistic response is paramount.  Overlapping and unconnected tools, data streams, interfaces, and teams can slow any organization’s response to a critical event when minutes count.  Enabling fast communication among key participants can help bring about a more integrated response to emergencies.

District leadership must quickly and effectively keep key audiences informed, particularly during challenging times of crisis.  Crises can take a number of forms, including but not limited to weather events, violence, man-made disasters, medical emergencies, financial improprieties, death of someone connected with the district schools, student accidents, academic malfeasance, terrorism, discrimination, sexual harassment and assault, racial incidents, and the like.  In any and all crises, the protection, safety, and welfare of human lives is the first priority.

Emergency preparedness and planning takes a broader view of potential risks to the schools and delivers a framework to help prepare for a variety of scenarios.  Communicating truthfully, effectively, and continuously during times of crisis are critical to any emergency.

The communication goal during any event or incident is to get the:

  • Right Information to the
  • Right People at the
  • Right Time so they can make the
  • Right Decisions and issue the
  • Right Communications.

 

Policy: School Safety Plans

Each must include:

  • District Level and School Level Civic Involvement
  • Bullying Prevention Plans
  • Stakeholders’ Participation and Involvement e.g. Parental Involvement, Staff, Student, PTAs

In some instances, the crisis may not affect the district directly, but individual schools and their resources may be able to play an important supporting role in disaster recovery for the surrounding community.

Emergency Response Planning – district level, school level, coordination with local county emergency planners

Developing a common operating view across a school district and individual schools responsible for replying to their constituents in a range of different threats is essential.  At the same time, it’s important that each school campus have the ability to manage their own available resources.  That ability to segment crisis response helps to ensure continuity of operations in other areas of the district while promoting individual responsibility.

Today’s threats recognize no boundaries.  Meaningful and productive relationships of mutual trust between public safety agencies and the communities they serve are critical to maintaining school safety, and effective emergency response and recovery throughout the district’s service region. Forming relationships in pre-crisis conditions is a simple, yet effective approach to structuring conversations, plans, and practices among diverse stakeholders who may play key roles when schools and districts are truly challenged by a critical incident.  City and County and District officials rely on the cooperation of community members to provide information about threats and hazards in their schools and neighborhoods.  Each must work collaboratively to devise crisis prevention and response plans, and establish a solid foundation for interoperability during real-time emergencies.  This is an effective communication tool that also promotes broader, longer-term policy and relationship issues.

School Level ERP Plan

Public education faces a variety of risks that can disrupt academics, athletics, and everything in between the boardroom and the classroom.  These risks can be all encompassing (major earthquake, ice and snow, pandemic illness, terrorism) or localized (fire in a specific building) or personal (failure of a hard drive).  Because disasters often cause loss of life, loss of income, property damage and adversely affects individuals and families, districts must make plans to continue their critical work no matter what happens.  Some locations will be expected not only to continue, but also to expand their services during these times.

The importance of personal and community preparedness cannot be understated.  Having an executable plan to recover from disasters is the best way to ensure business continuity.  The completion of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) will identify designated team members responsible for disaster recovery with defined roles and responsibilities.  The plan will guide teams through the steps in recognizing essential business functions that support the educational mission, assess the impact of disruption to those functions, and develop strategies to quickly resume those functions.   BCPs also provide a framework for communicating with staff, suppliers, customers, and stakeholders during a disaster.  Having a plan in place makes it more likely that crisis response will run smoothly, maximum service levels are maintained, and schools recover as quickly as possible.

Rather than plan for every possible scenario that could affect public education, districts must adopt a holistic approach that addresses all hazards, whether it is naturally occurring events (tornado, ice storm, and flood), technologic events (power outage, communications failure), man-made threats (targeted violence) or hazardous materials (chemical or radiologic exposure).  A Business Continuity program at the school level aims to make teaching, administration, sports and activities, and student services more resilient to any type of disruption.

A school level response and recovery plan must focus on the requirements of each school, not the solutions.  This plan will also facilitate school-level decision-making while helping to reduce or mitigate loss of life, property damage and loss, and disruptions to operations.

People:  Who are the key stakeholders that keep the school operational?

Decisions What are the critical decisions that need to be made in the event of disruption?

Facilities:  Where can the school carry out essential functions should the primary space be unavailable?

Resources What are the services and supply needs of each school?

Technology How would you carry out school functions if the data network is not available?

School Level Staff Training in ERP planning and working with ERP staff

Safety is a critical component in creating a community where everyone feels like they belong. As such, school districts must remain committed to providing members of the collaborative community and visitors with the safest and most secure environment possible.  One of the goals of A4LE is to design policies and regulations to create a safer environment for students, staff, parents and visitors.

District-level as well as school-level preparedness and planning is only as good as the information your team provides and puts into practice. This depth of information is a critical part of increasing the capacity to provide the learning environment with resources and effective protection.  Should an area of weakness be found during the planning process, modules should be tested and corrective actions developed to ensure familiarity with activation and recovery procedures as well as the testing, training, and exercise needs of school personnel.

TEST Confirm whether or not procedures, processes, and systems function as intended.
TRAIN Ensure that all personnel know what to do, how to do it, and when it should be done.
EXERCISE Provide practice and verification of whether parts of the plan or the entire plan works as intended.

Public Schools must remain committed to maintaining a dynamic training and exercise program in accordance with state and federal recommendations.  Tabletop exercises, drills, and functional / full-scale exercises should be scheduled regularly and provide measures to ensure that emergency plans and procedures are capable of supporting the execution of critical functions.  Data collected and analyzed from each exercise, event or incident that impacts the learning environment can serve as the basis for lessons learned and often are formalized through the development of After Action Reports.

Annual review and assessment of the district-level and school-level plan’s effectiveness is essential but should also be updated when a member of the planning team is added, removed or when roles change.  It should also be revised following a change in response protocol or any school-level incident involving plan activation.

Just as businesses change over time, so do preparedness needs.  When new employees are hired, or when there are changes in how the district or school functions, plan(s) should be updated and staff informed.  Organizations that achieve full alignment between people, process, tools and data not only become highly efficient, they also become agile and adapt to changing circumstances and capitalize on opportunities.  Disaster recovery planning is an ongoing, never-ending process.

Policies:  Student Policies

District Level

  • Provide meaningful training to staff on the use of physical security measures/systems provided in each school;
  • Address bullying among staff and students –“Rachel’s Challenge” and “Sandy Hook Promise” programs are examples;
  • Train with local law enforcement and emergency response officials on various disaster scenarios.

School Level

  • Working to be inclusive of all others
  • Create awareness of potential security breaches
  • Train in “Taking shelter in place”
  • Classroom and school evacuations – cooperating with first responders;
  • Train in sheltering outside – if students are outside building during an in-building incident;
  • Designate areas of safe refuge outside building.

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Building Design: Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)

Building Design: Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)
• Provide students with spaces necessary to facilitate access to resources, such as counselors, social workers, etc.
• Spaces that facilitate healthy social interactions – natural light, views, etc.
• De-escalation spaces
• Small Learning Communities offer the possibility of breaking larger schools down into smaller environments to foster positive relationships and trust between staff and student, as well as amongst the student body.

Resource Links:
Social and Emotional Learning Solutions
https://www.air.org/resource/social-and-emotional-learning-sel-solutions-air

Building Design: Technology

Building Design: Technology
• Video Surveillance
• Access Controls
• Gunfire Sensors (ShotSpotter)
• Bullet resistant glazing
• Glass breakage detection
• Mass notification systems
• Intercom systems
• Visitor management systems

Resource Links:
You Better Make These Schools Safe’: As School Starts, Violence Is Top of Mind
https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/08/30/you-better-make-these-schools-safe-as.html

Building Design: Classroom Security

Building Design: Classroom Security

Classroom door hardware

  • Always locked or lockable from inside the classroom
  • Consider barricade devices that are approved by the AHJ
  • Minimize glazing to prevent visibility, physical access to the lockset from the corridor side, gaining physical access to the space via glazed openings.
  • Consider protective glazing films or ballistic glazing at classroom entrances.
  • Provide shades to conceal glazed openings
  • Create shelter-in-place areas within the classroom
  • Strategically located opaque walls that allow students to hide outside the line of sight
  • Consider using ancillary classrooms spaces – toilet rooms, small group instruction rooms, storage rooms – as part of shelter in place strategy

Emergency Egress

  • Consider multiple points of egress to allow for escape within the building or to the exterior.

Resource Links:
Architects prioritize design as a school security solution
https://www.aia.org/articles/201346-architects-prioritize-design-as-a-school-se

Building Design: Strategic Building Separation

Building Design: Strategic Building Separation
• Where possible, separate regularly occupied student spaces from “public” spaces (lobbies, commons areas, activities areas) with cross corridor separations.

  • Classrooms wings or pods
  • Can be tied into the access control system for automatic lockdown
  • Interface cross corridor fire separation w/ building access controls
  • Provide separate entrance(s) for public spaces that need to be occupied separately from the remainder of the building.

Resource Links:
Guide for developing high-quality school emergency operations plans: at a glance
https://rems.ed.gov/K12GuideForDevelHQSchool.aspx

Building Design: Secure Entry

Building Design: Secure Entry
• Clearly identifiable
• Restrict public access to building to a single secure entry
• Minimize other entrances and equip egress doors w/ door contacts, position switches, etc. that can send notifications to staff when they are left open.
• Secure entry should require direct interaction with staff member prior to allowing access to office area or remainder of building
• Equip entrance and contiguous office areas w/ access controls/emergency lock-down hardware to prevent/delay intruders from gaining access to the remainder of the building.
• Equip office area w/ multiple secure lockdown “buttons” to enable lockdown.
• Allow for clear sightlines to the exterior and main interior corridors; staff should be strategically located to have consistent access to these sightlines
• If clear sightlines are not possible, supplement w/ video surveillance systems.
• Consider displaying video surveillance capabilities, such that the public recognizes that they are being monitored while on site.
• Provide specific resources in the office area to help dissuade the need to gain access to other parts of the building (public toilet facilities, conference rooms, etc.)
• Consider strategic use of shatter-resistant glazing films and/or ballistic glazing at secure entrance vestibule.
• Remove fire alarm pull stations from secure entry vestibule (may require special permission from the AHJ.
• Lock-down to enable automatic emergency dial-out

Resource Links:
Strategies to enhance security and reduce vandalism
http://www.k12.wa.us/SchFacilities/Advisory/pubdocs/2016April/FlSafeGuide2003.pdf

Site Design Best Practices:

Site Design Best Practices:
• Child’s journey begins at home – walking, busing, pick-up/drop-off, mass transit – not necessarily under the control of the designer, but must be considered.
• Appropriate site lighting levels
• Landscaping that does not permit individuals to hide (themselves or other objects)
• Clear lines of sight
• Proper delineation of property (materials, signage, fencing, landscaping, etc.)
• Avoid siting the building in a manner such that allows for dark corners, hiding places, etc.
• Vehicular collision prevention – bollards, berms, etc.

Resource Links:
Strategies to enhance security and reduce vandalism
http://www.k12.wa.us/SchFacilities/Advisory/pubdocs/2016April/FlSafeGuide2003.pdf

Preparedness and Planning

Preparedness and Planning
• Step One: Participatory Design & Community Engagement
• Step Two: Know the Threat
• Step Three: Designing for Safety

Resource Links:
Preparedness Programs and Resources for School Administrators (Child Care, K-12, Higher Education)
http://www.caloes.ca.gov/for-individuals-families/school-emergency-planning-safety

Design: Operational – Physical Preparedness and Response

Design: Operational – Physical Preparedness and Response (CPTED, Bldg. and grounds)
• Upholding good design practices, maintaining spaces that are appropriate for education
• Security and Design must have a symbiotic relationship
• Incremental approaches to creating safer schools can be applied to both new facilities and existing facilities
• Good design can be cost-effective
• Every child should have a safe place to learn
• Safe school require a holistic design and address all varieties of emergencies (not just products, etc.).

Resource Links:
Seven important building design features to enhance school safety and security
https://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/safety/seven-important-building-design-features-enhance-school-safety-and-security-isssa-2014.pdf

Technology: Communication Goal

Technology: Communication Goal
• Right Information to the
• Right People at the
• Right Time so they can make the
• Right Decisions and issue the
• Right Communications.

Resource Links:
School safety, Security and Emergency preparedness
https://www.nsba.org/services/school-board-leadership-services/school-safety-and-security