School Emergency Management in a Post-COVID World

School Emergency Management in a Post-COVID World

School Emergency Management in a Post-COVID World

As a school administrator, you’re going through some tumultuous times, with the COVID-19 pandemic, school shootings, and other dangers. You need to ensure the safety of students and staff, and at the same time prepare a comprehensive school emergency management plan. Your school should be ready to tackle anything and everything. 

Many schools today are not prepared to tackle various emergency situations. Schools need to work with local and state health departments, upgrade the existing security systems, and stay updated with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure safe learning environments for both students and staff members.

We all expect our schools to be safe havens for our children. Usually, they are. But, disaster can strike at any moment, and you can’t be wasting time trying to scramble to convey information, especially in the literal minutes it takes for first responders to arrive on the scene. You have mere seconds to broadcast critical or life-saving information. 

With the right school emergency management plan and a quality security provider, you can reduce risks and be prepared for any scenario, ensuring that the right messages always reach the right people, right away.  intended recipients instantly, at the touch of a button. Your staff, community, and the students under your care are counting on it.

Here’s how you can enhance your school emergency management team and plan.

School Emergency Management in a Post-COVID World

You already have a crisis management team in your school, but you should make sure your crisis manager, nurses, public health officials, and law enforcement officials are all working in tandem with your security system provider.

Your emergency operations plan (EOP), i.e. how you address emergencies, outlines the steps students and teachers will take in the event of an emergency, but to really secure your school, you need a risk mitigation mindset. Therefore, you need to perform a risk assessment to create a comprehensive emergency management plan. 

A comprehensive school security assessment plan covers three key areas:

  • Safety: The risks associated with the most serious and common school safety incidents.
  • Security: A thorough assessment of access control, security cameras, video surveillance, visitor management, and security policies.
  • Emergency Preparedness: A holistic assessment of the emergency management plan.

Consider Adopting a Layered Security Approach to Tackle Emergencies

In the security industry, a layered approach is always preferred to tackle emergencies. Per the site security approach recommended by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), there should be five physical layers of protection for schools These include:

  • District-wide
  • Property perimeter
  • Parking lot perimeter
  • Building perimeter
  • Classroom or interior perimeter

A layered security approach can help a great deal in tackling threats as each security layer provides specific tools to detect, deter and respond to emergencies. Each layer comprises of these safety and security components along with unique components specific to that layer:

  • Access control
  • Architectural 
  • Communication
  • Detection and alarms
  • Policies and procedures
  • People
  • Video surveillance

In the post-COVID world, threat detection systems with thermal screening can help in detecting early infections in schools. Therefore, real-time threat detection systems, such as Scylla can be added to each layer to detect suspicious activities, objects, and intrusions, and perform temperature screening on students, staff, and visitors. 

Establish Safety Policies and Procedures

Schools should ensure they create safety policies and procedures for students and staff covering the following:

  • Staff safety training
  • Student safety training
  • Threat assessment
  • Use of technology
  • Pandemic procedures
  • Violence awareness, prevention, and safety procedures
  • Plans and procedures for staff and students with disabilities
  • All-hazards procedures
  • Mental health issues

Ensure Regular Maintenance of Security Implementations

Conduct periodic testing of the school’s security systems to check if they’re functioning properly. You can also hire security professionals to inspect your school’s security system and ensure they’re working as required. Security professionals can identify security system issues in no time and troubleshoot them there and then. 

Conduct Safety Drills

Building a safe and secure environment for students and staff should be your top priority. This is where drills can help. Consider organizing drills such as lockdown drills and COVID-19 drills to train the students and staff on what they do in the event of a shooting incident or COVID-19 case in the school’s premises. 

Implement a Robust Visitor Management System

While it’s important to ensure the safety of students and staff inside the school, it’s also critical to implement a visitor management system to monitor visitors. Every school should have a visitor badge system. Badges should be issued to all visitors, even parents. Schools should also ask visitors to share their government identification cards and log in their details in a visitor management system to keep track of who’s entering the school.

At ProTech Security, we have a strong history of experience, innovation, and customer service. The ProTech Security Advantage is more than 35 years of service in Northeast Ohio and a strong commitment to providing quality, cost-effective protection for homes, businesses, educational institutions, and government facilities. To see what ProTech Security can do for you, contact us today.

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