This is part 2 of a Q&A of school administrators regarding their thoughts on school security plans. For more information on the three participants, Rebecca Jurs, Greg Rabenhorst, and Scott Mackall, see part 1 of this series here.
Q2: What do you consider to be the most important tool or resource at your disposal for school security?
RJ:Honestly, the most important resource for any safety plan is collaboration with your local police and fire personnel, that's critical. Because we're trying to align, it is important to let them know what our practices are so that they in turn can share their practices and expectations. Educating and informing our kids, parents and the community of our district safety initiative, has also been critical so that decisions can be made based on knowledge, not on fear.
Secondary is to have a plan that you're constantly revisiting and tweaking and looking at. In our district, the BluePoint Alert system is an important resource. I would like to see police pull boxes in every building similarly to how the fire alarm boxes we have in every building. I really believe that if we had that additional piece where staff and students and community members could quickly get first responders involved, it would save lives. This system enhances our safety protocols, it doesn't replace them.
SM: People are the key resource in any incident; they are the backbone of school security. Situational awareness, knowing what is happening around you and reacting in a responsible manner is important. On almost any given day, you can find a door propped open at a school for one reason or other. When you ask the person why, the answer is typically: ‘I was just moving an item to a different location and was here the whole time,’ or ‘I was just gone for a short period of time.’ I have heard this so many times it can make my head spin. If a staff member sees this behavior they need to report it the school office, and action must be taken immediately. I say ‘people’ because if just one person is lax in their commitment to school safety it opens the door for failure. Everyone must understand the possible damage that can be done by propping a single door open for ‘just a minute.’
GR: Effective communication between administration, teachers, and supporting agencies, such as police, fire and EMS. This includes resources for notification and specific mechanisms to communicate during a crisis (such as BluePoint Alert Solutions).
In part 3, the panel answers the question "How do you address the potential chaos that comes with crisis situations in schools?"