Survey Shows Where Schools Have Improved–or Regressed–in K-12 School Safety Policies

Survey Shows Insights into K-12 School Safety Policies

Campus Safety Magazine’s 2021 Access Control & Lockdown Deep Dive Survey provides insight into over 400 K-12 school, university, and healthcare safety policies. Below we review what the results show about K-12 schools. While there are some improvements—such as implementing visitor screening and tracking—there are also some alarming results, including schools not being able to fully lockdown their buildings.  

More Schools are Screening and Tracking Visitors 

Automated visitor management systems help prevent dangerous mistakes by screening each visitor’s personal information against sex offender registries and customized databases, like those containing custody orders and banned access.  

With the additional benefits of visitor management—knowing precisely who is on campus at all times, confirming guardianship before releasing students, reducing COVID-19’s spread, and positively impacting the perception of the school’s safety policies—it is no wonder why 83% of K-12 respondents have purchased a visitor management system in the past two years.  

Although schools are increasing access control and visitor management policies, the survey also highlights an alarming statistic: almost half of K-12 respondents feel their students, staff, and administrators are not trained and do not follow the access control procedures. 

An essential step in deploying safety systems is the successful implementation and communication of the new software and how it is to be used. Schools should work with trusted K-12 safety partners who have deep experience implementing systems across districts of various sizes, thoroughly training staff, and assisting schools in developing their safety procedures. 

Schools Lack Confidence in Their Ability to Account for Everyone on Campus 

Schools must protect every person in their buildings, including students, staff, visitors, guardians, and contractors. This obligation includes knowing where and how everyone is during emergencies; unfortunately, 65% of schools said they are not confident that they can account for everyone on campus. This finding is not surprising, since many schools still rely on handwritten visitor logs that are nearly impossible to integrate with their emergency management system.  

In the commotion, these handwritten logs will most likely be left behind, lost, or damaged, leaving no record of who is on school premises or any way to determine if all visitors have been safely accounted for. These paper sign-in sheets also can’t be accessed remotely by first responders before they arrive or while they are at the scene. 

To streamline emergency response and accountability processes, schools should use an integrated visitor and emergency management system that enables them to know exactly who is on campus, where they are located, and what their conditions are during the crisis. The most powerful systems relay this information to incident commanders and first responders in real time, so they can get to where they are needed as quickly as possible. 

Less Schools Can Lockdown Their Entire Campus or District 

In 2019, 90% of K-12 respondents said they could lockdown 75-100% of their buildings. When asked the same question in 2021, only 79% of K-12 schools feel they can lockdown 75-100% of their buildings.  

It is not just about how much of the school you can lockdown, but also how fast you can do it. We all know that every second matters in emergencies, so it’s concerning that 20% of schools said it would take longer than 10 minutes to lockdown.  

Schools must have the right tools—like a robust school emergency management system—for faster, better emergency response. Best practice is for teachers, staff, and SROs to have a mobile panic button that they can initiate from wherever they are on campus. The panic button should send instant alerts with specific details about the incident, including the type of emergency (lockdown, evacuate, etc.) so that everyone on campus knows what to do next.  

Stay Updated with the Latest K-12 Research and Best Practices 

To build and maintain a safe environment, schools must recognize and understand new threats and safety considerations as the school safety landscape continuously evolves. Subscribe to our podcast, School Safety Today, on Apple Podcast or Spotify to stay updated on the latest research and guidance from leading school safety experts.