School Safety — New Approaches, Technologies, and Concerns
Students, teachers, and other education professionals have had plenty to worry about in the past two years, what with juggling new remote learning requirements and maintaining healthy environments. The meaning of a “safe school” has evolved as the world outside of the education building’s walls. Let’s take a look at the new approaches being used to foster a better, more secure learning environment.
The meaning of safety changed for the world in general on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, it was imperative that social distancing and other preventative measures were being taken to prevent the spread of sickness. Safety has always been important to educators, but this was a new danger that had not been tackled before.
Safe and Sound Schools conducted a 2021 survey of school district administrators, teachers, parents and other stakeholders regarding school safety. Interestingly enough, their survey found that administrators and parents have a different view of how secure schools were in the past year. For example, “98% of administrators believe they handled the COVID-19 crisis well, whereas only 74% of parents agree.” When working to improve school safety against a new threat, novel solutions must be used.
Some schools are offering remote options and being more conscious of limited germ spreading activities. COVID-19 protocols are becoming the norm, with the CDC providing guidance for K-12 schools. Here are some examples from their website:
- Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.
- In addition to universal indoor masking, CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms to reduce transmission risk.
- Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of any infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care (five days).
In addition, technology use has increased, meaning that cyber security has become more important than ever. Students and teachers are interacting via Zoom and other digital tools under the impression that they are safe from prying hackers. In a 2021 letter to the Education and Homeland Security departments, a group of senators urged them to strengthen cybersecurity for K-12 schools.
While there are new concerns regarding school security, the age-old issues are not going away. Luckily, there are new emerging technologies that will make learners and educators feel safer as well as create an environment that is more conducive to growth. Here are some examples of new technologies that some schools are beginning to implement:
- New visitor management systems.
- Student and visitor screening methods.
- Mask compliance software.
Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) has its own security guidelines for K–12 schools, which recommend security technologies to beef up safety protocols. Here are their top suggestions:
- A duress button system for offices and classrooms.
- An in-building emergency communication system.
- A public address system.
- Radios with access to frequencies used by emergency services.
As you can see, some of the company’s suggestions are more complex than others. Specific needs are informed by the school’s history and the likelihood of certain emergency situations. Regardless of history, however, it’s a good idea to look into new tech before the need arises.
As the world continues to shift and change, so will schools’ concerns and approaches. We are learning more and more every year about effective ways to manage secure learning spaces, so adjustments are almost inevitable.
As the world of school security changes with new threats, we will be on the lookout for the best technology. At Agile, we have the information to keep you on the edge of new safety approaches. For more information, contact us today.