School Safety Week
Oct 19, 2017

School Safety

School Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Anyone who sees, hears or reads something that seems strange or scary should call the school security tip line- 855-337-8300 or 405-810-1158, or report a tip on-line; www.tipline.ok.gov.

Here are some tips for school safety:

  1. Create an all-inclusive, all-hazards emergency operations plan. The plan needs to be approved by your school board and shared with your local first responders.
    - Your plan needs to cover before, during and after the emergency
    - Your plan needs to cover all times of the day. Bad things happen at inconvenient times. How many activities happen at your school during out of school time?
    - Your plan must be appropriate for your entire student population, including those with special needs
    - When creating your plan, your first responders should be part of the conversation.
    www.rems.ed.gov is a good resource
    - Watch the Oklahoma School Security Institute's website for information on “Crisis Team Training” which will provide tools to create a high-quality emergency operations plan.
  2. Use your Safe Schools Committee to help you understand what the issues are in your school. Include students (not necessarily the typical student leader), parents and local first responders. Including students on your committee can give you another perspective. They can also let you know of any issues with drills.
  3. Create a double-door lobby system.
    - Controlling access to your school is vital to school safety.
    - This can be done through locking your front door and not allowing anyone in without someone in the office allowing them in. Or, you can leave your front door open but once you’re in there, you can’t enter the main part of the school building without going into the office. Once in the office, it is recommend that the door leading from the office into the main part of the school should be magnetic so the office staff must release it to allow someone in.
  4. Add a camera or communication device at primary entry points.
    - Artificial Intelligence cameras are an inexpensive security tool. It allows you to view/speak with someone before allowing them in your building. This can be a great tool, if it is used correctly. The person who is in charge of monitoring this area must slow down and take time to observe the person to see if everything seems “normal."
  5. Make student handbooks and student conduct policies work for you.
    - Declare that any student who leaves the building without permission and then returns may be subject to search on reasonable suspicion.
    - Include a provision on electronic devices that proclaims a search and seizure of a device may occur if there is reasonable suspicion to believe the device is being used to threaten, harass, bully, to further a criminal act such as illegal drug transactions, has information about a weapon on property or a threat to use a weapon, includes pornography or has been used for cheating.
  6. Consider a policy concerning propping doors open.
    - We see so many schools that have most of their exterior doors locked yet staff members are using various items to prop those doors open for different reasons. If a door needs to be propped open, a staff member needs to be by the door to observe who is coming and going.
  7. Secure janitorial, mechanical and storage closets
    - Besides the fact that all of the areas can have dangerous items in them, those doors should be secured at all times so we don’t offer opportunities for privacy to willing parties or to unwilling parties.
  8. Classroom doors should be able to be locked from the inside of the classroom.
    - Many schools, both old and new, have classroom doors that have to be locked from the outside with a key. If changing out hardware is not possible, then consider locking all classrooms doors. Either prop the door open or keep the door closed. We recommend keeping the doors locked and closed so your school is on lockdown at all times. This allows staff to move to "what do we do next" if there is a threat inside the school.
    - There are also magnets (easily made by the school) that can be used to cover up where the bolt latches. It can be quickly removed in the case of an emergency. Another option is to place a small, round magnet on the door frame. This allows the door to be locked but not latched. It can be quickly removed.
  9. Secure buses.
    - First, secure your buses because they are very expensive to replace.
    - Second, you don’t want to provide the opportunity to use a bus for inappropriate or criminal activity.
  10. Signs.
    - Use signs for way finding and to share what your rules are for your campus.
    - Most people want to follow the rules, but they need to know them.

Another recommendation is to use your drills to see if your plan works. Drills always go well when they are announced and are conducted at a time where everyone is in their places. Bad things happen at inconvenient times when there is a lot of noise and people are tucked safely away in their classrooms. Do a drill during lunch. Do an unannounced drill. When you do a fire drill, block one of your exits that is always used so staff have to think about what they would do.

Thank you to Jennifer Newell, Programs Manager for the Oklahoma School Security Institute, for providing us with these useful tips.