School Safety in the Time of COVID-19
As a co-founder of the International School Recovery Forum, I am pleased to share a tremendous amount of information from schools around the world about operating in the COVID-19 environment. While few schools in the U.S. have reopened, many in Asia and Europe have.
We have found that one of the most important components of reopening schools safely and confidently during this pandemic is ACCESS CONTROLS. Access controls have always been critical to school safety, but now take on new importance for meeting both regulatory requirements, as well as customer expectations and demands for student and staff health.
Prior to COVID-19, schools would employ a strong access control system to mitigate threats- criminal activity, child protection, child custody issues, etc. Now, schools will need to deploy even more robust access control to mitigate against “man-created” threats as well as coronaviruses. New considerations will have to include who should be on campus and why, and where they will be permitted on campus. Most schools do not have the necessary policies nor procedures in place to manage access control when it comes to COVID-19. Establishment of the appropriate rules and guidelines, and ensuring that these are well communicated, understood, and enforced, is vital for the following reasons:
- Transparency – by clearly communicating your plans, it becomes easier to secure and support and ensure they are reinforced
- Limiting Exposure – well followed plans will limit your schools’ risk for exposure
- Meeting Regulations – states and municipalities in the U.S. have different regulations for managing COVID-19, and your school must manage access according to these requirements
- Confidence – if a thoroughly researched set of access controls are thoughtfully communicated and consistently enforced, confidence in your school’s safety will ensue
Mike Johnson is the Managing Director of Clearpath EPM, a Fort Lauderdale based company that provides safety, security and emergency preparedness technology and training solutions to institutions, corporations, and event organizers and planners. Mike is a lead trainer and facilitator for several non-profit education organizations and has provided safety, security and crisis management training to hundreds of school leaders. Mike serves on the Make Our Schools Safe Board of Directors, the Winterfest, Inc. Board of Directors, and chairs the Advisory Board of the Center for Mass Violence Response Studies. He is also an Advisor to the National Police Foundation’s Averted School Violence program.