In 2021, our Eastern DataComm team released a blog regarding five ways to improve school safety.
Today, with over twenty recent incidents of school violence continuing to devastate districts across the country, we’re revisiting this topic with renewed focus. As we continue our commitment to be part of the solution, we’re bringing you seven ways you can improve school safety in the upcoming school year.
We hope this insight will help you and your fellow school or district stakeholders have impactful conversations about enhancing safety in your buildings and on your grounds. We encourage you to leverage this information to assist with ensuring your school remains a safe learning environment for all those you serve.
7 Ways to Boost School Safety in 2023–2024
1. Practice Emergency Plans (for Quick Lockdowns)
A great first step in improving your school or district’s safety is to refine, enhance, and practice your emergency response plans.
From lockdowns and active shooter events to shelter in place and evacuation drills, when repetition is combined with effective planning and the right technology, schools become safer by design.
This is perhaps most evident when it comes to lockdown drills and preparing for urgent events like those that make national headlines.
As a stakeholder at one of our client districts explains,
“If everybody can lock down before that perpetrator gets into the hallway, and the hallways are clear, that person’s going to be going down the hallway, looking for kids … and we’re locked down.
“So it is extremely, extremely relevant and important that the faster that we have the ability to put the school on lockdown, the more lives that we could be saving… With our drills, we’re locked down, basically clearing the halls within 10 seconds … And the more quickly we secure the buildings, that’s more lives that we’re going to save.”
– District Safety and Emergency Management Coordinator
A Burlington County, NJ, School District
There is no way to overstate the vital nature of swift and effective lockdowns. And that all begins with practice.
2. Monitor School Visitors
Another key way to improve your school’s overall safety is to ensure you can effectively monitor school visitors.
School identification cards are a great first step for staff, educators, administrators, aides, and students. But what about parents, guardians, and other visitors?
When it comes to improving school safety, technology solutions like video surveillance and access control can help you keep unwanted visitors out of your school and allow those who need access to your learning community to gain entry in a way you can track, monitor, and regulate.
3. Create a Supportive Environment
Improving school safety requires a supportive environment. And a supportive environment encompasses administrative and counseling support for students who need it. While those resources are incredibly essential and impactful, they’re only part of the story.
The school safety ecosystem also includes resource officers and police, training, threat assessment, compliance with state and federal law, and technology infrastructure. That technology infrastructure, in order to be effective, must be comprehensive. Total coverage ensures everyone can be made aware of an emergency quickly and effectively. With tech solutions like video surveillance, access control, paging systems, and VoIP phone systems, your safety technology ecosystem becomes all the more responsive.
Creating a supportive environment begins with empowering confidence. That comes from knowing that everyone can get the important emergency notification messages they need when it matters most. This is achieved through utilizing and integrating underlying systems that enable rapid communication when every second counts.
4. Get Stakeholders Involved throughout the Process of Making Your School Safer
Making schools and districts safer is a team effort. The most commonly recognized players are our school administrators, staff, teachers, counselors, technology professionals, and the local emergency services teams.
But it bears mentioning that custodians, parents, guardians, teaching aides, school board members, and PTA members can also help to actively improve school safety when they’re brought to the table to share their insights. Whether it’s a feedback session, more formal meetings, or presentations at their meetings, getting these groups on board is a great asset.
It also serves to keep everyone on the same page in case of a real emergency.
Each of these groups or individuals has a unique perspective on what’s working, what may need improvement, and how that improvement might be achieved. And they all share in your goal of protecting those within your school walls and on your grounds each day.
5. Create Partnerships That Foster a More Robust School Safety Ecosystem
Fostering a truly comprehensive and robust school safety ecosystem also includes those in disciplines beyond education.
Enhancing your relationships with local emergency responders and police is a great place to start. While you’ve surely established these relationships, it can be impactful to foster them with more regular meetings, an ongoing discussion on potential improvements, and an exploration of enhancements for things like drills and best practices.
Developing partnerships with a safety and communications technology partner like Eastern DataComm is also immensely valuable. These relationships can help you prepare in every possible way for an emergency, unearthing vulnerabilities you and your team may not yet have been aware of, but now can proactively address. Ultimately, building these relationships can lead to a stronger school safety ecosystem overall. Professionals can help you strategically improve your school safety ecosystem by educating, implementing, and advising you regarding your school’s evolving needs. Our team at Eastern DataComm is dedicated to doing just that.
6. Recognize Potential Vulnerabilities in Your Buildings and Grounds and Work to Address Them
It can be devastating to reflect on past tragedies from Columbine to Uvalde and realize that our schools may have similar challenges when it comes to safety even today. But the very act of identifying these potential areas of vulnerability is a step in the right direction.
One way to begin the process of identifying issues in your buildings and grounds is to connect with your team and a safety and technology advisor or vendor partner. Together, you can move through a comprehensive assessment and create a game plan for enhancements that will really make all the difference in the event of a school-wide emergency.
At Eastern DataComm, our team begins this process. Our school safety consultative and diagnostic approach allows us to partner with schools and districts to assess and take meaningful action to address areas of potential vulnerability and empowers our customers to take charge of creating safer schools for today and beyond.
7. Consider Integrating Your School Safety Technology for Swifter, Streamlined Responses to Emergencies
A final consideration that bears noting when it comes to improving your school’s safety is the power of integration. Integrating your technology solutions, from phones to public address (PA) systems, video surveillance to access control, can reduce the chance of human error during stress-filled emergency situations.
Eastern DataComm’s LENS + OPTICS system is a practical example of this integrated approach to school safety. The Lockdown and Emergency Notification System (and its self-monitoring OPTICS system) allow schools to immediately notify everyone on campus, along with law enforcement and first responders, once a threat has been recognized.
The process begins with the push-button activation of a lockdown, shelter-in-place, or evacuation. This emergency notification solution includes scalable, integrated technology from phones, wireless devices, strobes, and pre-recorded notifications. This comprehensive approach to lockdowns ensures that everyone is aware of the situation and can respond efficiently and effectively, with a reduced risk of human error.
For further customization, the integrations can be personalized to the needs of your school so that you have the means to achieve a connected and protected school environment.
It’s truly the system you want in place when every second counts.
Improving School Safety Starts with the Right Technology Partner
If you’re a teacher looking to make your school a safer place, we encourage you to share this resource with your administration.
And if you’re an administrator, we’d love to connect with you to explore technology solutions that augment your emergency operations plans.
Reach out to Eastern DataComm today to schedule a customized School Safety Consultation to keep your community connected and protected.
Also Read: 5 Ways to Improve Schools Safety