School Access Control: Two Simple, But Powerful, Practices

Posted by on January 25, 2010

Proximity or swipe card readers, electronic door opening controls, surveillance cameras, and visitor management systems are among a list of access control and management strategies put in place in schools across the nation.

School administrators and safety officials can effectively integrate these and other strategies into their school security plans.  But two simple, but powerful, practices are too frequently overlooked and/or under-emphasized:

  1. Adult staff greeting and challenging visitors.  My colleague, Chuck Hibbert, has long said that one of the most powerful phrases in school safety is, “Good morning.  How may I help you?”  This is the responsibility of every adult in a school from principals and teachers to custodians and food service workers. Unfortunately, our consulting visits to schools across the nation continue to find this to be one of the most obvious missing school safety practices in most schools.  Dozens of hidden camera local investigative new stories across the nation in recent years have also documented this basic gap in school security. 
  2. Training students to not open exterior doors.  We have seen a number of schools proactively train their students not to open doors for anyone, even the school principal.  We have heard countless stories of principals who were outside in rain and snow, and knocked on doors because they left their keys inside, and their well-trained students would not open the doors.  (Of course, this is a good thing.  The students followed the directions not to open doors for anyone!)

Empowering students and school staff (including support personnel) can be one of the most powerful school safety practices school leaders can take to make their schools safer. 

To many readers, these two best practices just seem to be common sense.  But what is common sense is not always common practice.

Do all school staff greet and challenge visitors at your school?  Have students been trained not to open exterior doors for anyone?  If no, why not?

Ken Trump

2 thoughts on “School Access Control: Two Simple, But Powerful, Practices

  1. Ken, what it goes back to is something we’ve been saying for years. School safety requires a comprehensive approach. Too often it seems some schools go to one extreme or another. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, but it does take time and planning to be successful particularly in these difficult financial times.

    1. Ken Trump says:

      As we often say, many of the things we need to do for school safety take more time than money.

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