Over the past few months, the PASS Safety and Security Guidelines for K-12 Schools have been recognized by policymakers and subject matter experts at the state and federal levels. One of several key recommended uses for the guidelines is to assist in the establishment of recommendations as many communities seek to establish baseline standards or other guidance for local school districts.
Federal Commission on School Safety
In December 2018, the Federal Commission on School Safety released its final report, which provided recommendations in 19 different areas across a wide range of school safety issues impacting prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery. Many proven school security practices supported by and detailed in the guidelines are included in the report’s recommendations for school building security (pgs. 119-128):
- Citing the PASS Guidelines and other sources, “a layered approach that incorporates multiple, reinforcing echelons of policy, programs and protective measures”
- Establishing a security management team with designated staff lead and a community of stakeholder advisors
- Conducting risk assessments and establishing wide-ranging emergency operations plans
- Securing all classrooms with code-compliant locks allowing the teacher to lock the classroom door from the inside and openable from outside by teachers, administrators or emergency responders
- Procedures roles and training for staff
- Applying a common door numbering system for use by responders in an emergency
- Incorporating crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) principles to enhance security through architectural features and design
- Providing electronic access control for exterior doors, with video intercom door release system at main entrances
- Ensuring video surveillance coverage extends beyond entry points to areas outside of normal view and provide data access to local emergency responders
- Protecting key doors and windows with security/ballistic-rated films or coatings
- Ensuring portable classrooms are protected by additional measures and specific security plans
The PASS Guidelines were cited in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Commission Report released by the state of Florida in January 2019 as part of a key recommendation supporting a “tiered approach” to ensuring basic protective measures are in place before pursuing more advanced measures and providing districts with a “tiered list of best practices that will allow schools to develop a plan to enhance and phase in security levels over time as budgets and resources allow.”
Consistent with the PASS Tier 1 and Tier 2 (basic) best practices, among other recommendations, the commission urged all Florida districts to ensure:
- Clearly established security roles and responsibilities outlined in written policy and empowerment of all personnel to initiate emergency protocols if a threat is detected
- Classroom locks that can be engaged/locked from the inside of the room
- Exterior doors that are locked/controlled during school hours, with electronic status monitoring
- Emergency responder access to video surveillance data
- Communication systems providing clear notification throughout all campus locations
- Two-way radio communications between lockdown spaces and administrators and responders
Additional recommendations supported by PASS Guidelines in higher tiers:
- Fully electronic access control system with door status monitoring
- Vestibule incorporating ballistic protections at single point of entry
- District security operations center
Ohio School Security Report & Recommendations
In 2018 legislation was enacted in Ohio that initiated an assessment of current school safety measures and identification of cost-effective physical security upgrades. In February 2019, the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission released the Ohio School Security Report & Recommendations. The report included both the results of a survey of all public and private K-12 schools in Ohio and a series of recommendations.
The survey measured eight types of security features, both in level of use and views of school officials regarding the relative importance of these features. Importantly, two-thirds of school administrators surveyed indicated they did not have all the security features in place they considered “essential,” which highlights the importance of addressing gaps identified as well as the fact that older school facilities continue to present safety and security challenges (newer buildings already include many common best practices due to more recent state requirements for new school construction).
Three primary recommendations to Ohio schools are provided in the report. In addition to conducting a risk assessment and creating an “all-hazards” safety plan, schools are encouraged to leverage the PASS Guidelines in addressing physical security and related policies and procedures. PASS identifies best practices within several key K-12 safety and security components that correlate to the features measured in the state survey: architectural features, communications technology, access control, video surveillance and detection and alarms.
Schools are strongly encouraged to at least comply with “Tier 1” measures in the PASS Guidelines while using the other tiers of options for “assessing and customizing the proper security solution for each school.” Lastly, the report encourages schools to seek cost-effective security upgrades with an appropriate focus on full life cycle costs and leverage $4 million in new school safety and security grants through the workplace safety program at the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard
These recognitions follow the May 2018 release of NFPA 3000, the world’s first active shooter/hostile event standard, which incorporates the PASS Guidelines as a key resource for communities to use for risk assessment and school facility preparedness. NFPA facilitates consensus standards development processes, publishing codes and standards covering the areas of fire, electrical, community risk reduction and life safety. Specifically, NFPA 3000 provides information to help mitigate the loss of life and impact to communities during active shooter/hostile events in a wide range of settings, empowering them to improve planning, response and recovery from events in a unified, coordinated manner.
PASS tools and resources continue to provide value those seeking to implement the most complete and comprehensive approaches to keeping our students and school personnel safe. Download the PASS Safety and Security Guidelines for K-12 Schools here and follow us on Twitter to learn more.
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