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Igniting a New Chapter for School Security

Kelly Moore
July 5, 2023

Now that we have closed out the past school year with a final review of all our accomplishments, all of our identified areas of improvement and put the plan for next year into motion, it is time to start this process all over again. This is the first step in preparing your school not only for the upcoming school year, but also for the school year following that. At the time this blog was written, we just closed out the 22/23 school year, and have put the plan in motion for the 23/24 school year. Now we are looking forward to the 24/25 school year. The processes you start today, will run concurrently with the 23/24 school year while also running parallel with it. As you look to the future, you will be looking at the longer-range success and build upon the successes at the same time. As we look to the future, we will take a look at these four processes which will need attention at a minimum:

  1. School Safety and Security Assessment and Gap Analysis
  2. School Safety Plans
  3. Emergency Operations Plans
  4. School Safety and Security Strategic Plan

Before we look deeper into these processes, we must first talk about how we are going to manage this monumental task; you are going to need some help. You will need to delegate many of the responsibilities to complete these tasks. You will also need to determine how you compile all of the information collected, organize it, then finally create a comprehensive report for each of these areas. This will likely require the use of technology.  The first time you work through these processes, will be your biggest lift. After that first time, each subsequent year will likely be less and less of a load to carry. Ask for help when you need it and know that we at CrisisGo are here to help if needed. Okay, let’s get started down this pathway to enhancing your safety.

For many of you, this will not be the first time you have conducted a School Safety and Security Assessment and Gap Analysis. However, for many more of us, this will be the first time. Some of you may have separated this process into two or more processes focussing on each aspect independently from the others. How you do this is entirely up to you, but at some point you will need to bring them all together to ensure you understand the whole process and you can see the whole picture being painted. This assessment will require that you look at all of the security systems and assets you have in place within each of your schools; video cameras, door locks, access control, visitor management, sensors, AI augmentation, first aid kits, stop-the-bleed kits, fire extinguishers, room comfort kits, AEDs, indoor location beacons, gateways, etcetera.

Additionally, the assessment will require that you look at all of your safety systems and processes are intact and where you want them to be: Emergency operations plans, drill and exercise schedules, training and certifications are completed and in place, CRP/First Aid/Stop the bleed training are completed or updated, etcetera. The gap analysis comes into play when we compare what we have with what we want. We must also look at what we have that isn’t working as required. The equation for this looks like: Want (W) - Have (H)= Need (N), or W - H = N. When all is said and done, what you need will be addressed in your School Safety and Security Strategic Plan that you will eventually present to the superintendent and the school board for approval.

While many of us look at the emergency operations plans as being synonymous with the School Safety Plans, to me they are two different documents and processes, which I think often leads to schools neglecting the School Safety Plans. School Safety Plans should specifically look to address what your schools are doing to create and maintain a safe and supportive learning environment. In some states, they have a Comprehensive School Safety Plan which contains both Safety Plans and Emergency Plans. With the School Safety Plan we are looking at what we do daily to accomplish these three primary objectives: get every child to school safely, provide an environment where each and every student can have every opportunity to reach their full potential, and then return them to their family better than we found them at the end of the day. This means providing an environment free from bullying, emotional trauma, crime, and abnormal stress; while also providing emotional support and being given every opportunity to succeed academically. Within the safety plan, we must also examine what (if any) harm our staff are causing our students. We have all heard, and many of us have witnessed, inappropriate behaviors between students and staff. Our plans must address these instances of abuses of the position entrusted to them.

We have talked about the Emergency Operations Plans quite a bit within this blog series. For the purpose of this discussion, we have to look not only at the need to update our current plans to make sure that all the improvements are made and implemented properly, but we also have to make sure that any new mandates are all incorporated into the next plan, or if required, into the current plan. Many new mandates, especially those created after a recent event, don’t follow a convenient school cycle like starting in the following school year. However, because new mandates are often created in response to a perceived flaw in our security or safety program, there is often a short time frame to address the new mandate and often without any/or proper funding. That being said, this is your opportunity to ensure that you haven’t missed something or something new came along without your knowledge.

Finally, let’s discuss the School Safety and Security Strategic Plan. This strategic plan is not that different from other strategic plans which currently exist for long-range planning. This strategic plan specifically looks into the future to see where you want your plan to be in 3, 5, and/or 10 years from now. It is a living document in which you should interact with and review often. As an example, take a look at a school that has very little in the way of safety systems in place, and see what is missing, and make a plan that incrementally takes steps for them to achieve the level of safety you think they should have. As an example: this school has one video camera facing the front entrance, but you think they should have cameras at all entrances and exits, high trouble spots, parking lots and high-risk areas, maybe requiring some 40 cameras.

To do this with the budget you are given, it might take three years to add that many cameras to that school. So you will have to plan how many cameras you are going to get each year while accounting for those cameras that get broken and don’t work that need to be replaced; this might require that plan on purchasing 15 cameras each year for the next three years at a cost of $10,000.00 each year. Now extrapolate this example over all aspects of your School Safety and Security Plans for each of the three terms of the strategic plan and there you have it, your overall strategic plan. Obviously, this is a much more complex problem than what I have illustrated here, but this process is essential if you want to get the buy-in from your school board and your district’s administration.

As discussed above, managing all of these tasks and processes can be difficult. However, technology in this area is moving and advancing very quickly. Once you understand the needs and how to do this manually, check for a technology solution that can help and if you can’t find one, check again in a few weeks. We might have developed it since the last time you checked. If you still can’t find a solution, call us and let us know what you are looking for and we will see if there is some way we can help you.

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