EUnless your school has recently been built or renovated, it is highly unlikely that its existing physical and technical design features were chosen and installed with COVID-19 in mind.  They were most likely chosen to facilitate the safe and efficient carrying-out of normal activities that take place in educational environments.  As we all know, though, there has been very little that would be normal or common this past year.  So, if you are carrying out some of these activities differently since reopening, SEC recommends you attempt to determine whether these differences have had a negative impact on the effectiveness of the existing physical and technical design features.

SEC believes the best way to accomplish this is to, first, catalogue the activities that are being done differently than they were pre-pandemic. Then, just as we recommended in our most recent post relating to the auditing of emergency policy and procedures, ask yourself the same three simple questions:

  • What is the same?

  • What is different?

  • What, if anything, needs to be adjusted as a result?

The following are examples of findings from recent site assessments we have conducted, illustrating this point:

  • School #1

    • What is the same? – All school entry points should be visible on camera monitors.

    • What is the same? – All school entry points should be visible on camera monitors.

    • What needs to be adjusted?  – Additional exterior and interior cameras need to be installed so these new entry points can be effectively monitored.

  • School #2

    • What is the same? – Effective access control features need to be in place in the front lobby to assist in ensuring the safety and security of the students and staff.

    • What is different? – Biometric fingerprint scanners create an additional contact point that can contribute to the spread of the virus.

    • What needs to be adjusted? – Transitioning to biometric iris scanning technology or touchless entry mobile applications should be considered.

  • School #3

    • What is the same? – Students and staff should be able to be efficiently and effectively alerted to emergency situations.

    • What is different? – More classes are taking place outdoors where the public address system cannot be heard.

    • What needs to be adjusted? – Additional exterior speakers need to be installed so students and staff can hear emergency notifications when participating in outside activities.

 

Our hope at SEC is that, by conducting this simple self-assessment, school leadership can identify any new physical security gaps created by the implementation of the recommended COVID-19 protocols. Closing these security gaps while adhering to the latest health protocols will go a long way toward making your school environment as safe as possible.