Learning Environment Can't Feel Like a Prison

Schools are no different than facilities that are occupied by a large number of people and face the same challenging elements. Terrorism is not limited to our global enemies attempting to disrupt our way of life, it includes students bringing weapons onto the campus for showmanship or intent to harm others; and gangs who not only threaten the facility by means of vandalism, but also endanger its occupants.

Access control is one of the most common ways to start addressing all of these issues for any type facility, but let’s take a moment to see how these situations can be reasonably addressed without having a fundraiser or passing a bond issue to pay for them.

First, let’s make reference to the most common platform in security systems design as developed by the American Society of Industrial security (ASIS) — detect, deter, delay, respond. Let’s also dismiss the myth that higher security means a bigger lock on the front door. Security begins at the perimeter, not at the front door.

Detection can be accomplished by several means from sophisticated video surveillance to systems as simple as buried or fence applied sensors. Depending on the fence material applied to, the sensors can be completely covert and tamper resistant. These sensors can actuate lighting, trigger alarms, or send a message to an assigned observation point.

Next is the fence itself. The type and quality of fence materials used will determine the degree of deterrence you can achieve. The stronger the platform used, the greater the potential will be for the threat to move to another location. It is important for a campus fence to not only provide adequate protection, but also be aesthetically pleasing. Campuses can use an ornamental steel fence, moving away from traditional chain link.

Delay, the third element in completing your physical security package, is also addressed at the fence line. Several of the ASIS vulnerability assessment models allow for 4 seconds of delay using a heavy gauge chain link fence with barbed wire atop. Other ornamental products are allowed one minute or more in the same application.

The last element is response. This can vary from local authorities being summoned, to dedicated on-site security being alerted. Given your specific situation, a number of possibilities are available.

>> Courtesy of Ameristar Fence.

This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of School Planning & Management.

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