President, School Safety Operations Inc.
We cannot focus solely on the threat of the COVID-19 virus when considering how to safely open schools.
Guidelines for reopening schools are geared only towards protecting against the spread of the virus. Recommendations, such as leaving doors open and wear face masks, leave schools vulnerable to unauthorized access by persons with possible ill intent. These health-related recommendations are necessary, but we must remember that manmade threats still exist.
A secure perimeter is necessary in order to prevent unauthorized access to schools. Exterior perimeter doors should never be left open during the school day. Proper ventilation is a necessary measure during the pandemic, but this can be done without sacrificing perimeter security. Schools cannot afford expensive air purification systems, but they can still take common sense precautions to ensure safety while providing ventilation.
Getting back to the basics of school safety and violence prevention in post-pandemic education.
Leaving interior doors that are not vulnerable to unauthorized access is one means of increasing ventilation. Some building access doors are inside of the fenced perimeter of a campus, so they can be left open. Any door that is left open should be in the locked position. This allows a staff member to simply pull it shut if a lockdown incident occurs.
Wearing of masks is something new to school safety. However, they pose a safety-related vulnerability. Instituting a policy where all students and staff wear visible school identification at all times mitigates this vulnerability.
All ingress into a school after school starts should be directed through a secure single point of entry. Having a strict No Visitor policy in effect will keep this point of entry monitored and secured. A system for signing visitors in with a visible identification badge will also assist in monitoring who is on campus.