The creation of a safer school environment is a priority for schools and policymakers. A safe learning environment is meant to “encourage students to be more engaged in their school life and feel connected to important adults at school and at home” (CDC, 2020, p. 1). Taking specific measures is especially important for the K-12 system, as it is dynamic and complex. The main challenge is to ensure the safety of students while maintaining a welcoming and supportive learning environment. Often, ensuring students’ safety involves strengthening security measures, which is especially important in the face of an increasing number of incidents of gun violence and bullying. It implies hardening schools with “visible security measures and zero-tolerance policies” (Fiddiman, Jeffrey, & Sargrad, 2018). However, these measures are ineffective, so less straightforward measures need to be taken.
First of all, changes should affect the design of schools, which includes taking care of the mental health of students (Brady, n.d.). Streamline entrances can help schools better identify and monitor people entering a building. The single point of entry will give access for observation from both outside and inside. Additionally, it is necessary to minimize the number of school entrances for more effective control. Wider corridors and the absence of closed areas will provide teachers and staff with a better view of what is occurring in them. This aspect can play a key role in eliminating bullying, which is especially relevant for K-12 schools. Neutral learning commons, with a more informal atmosphere than in classrooms, where students can both study and relax, will help students avoid stress, which will positively affect their behavior. In addition, these areas will become a place for student communication, which will help create a more socially comfortable environment.
Since strengthening school security and installing metal detectors is not an effective measure to create a supportive atmosphere, schools should also use technology. Visitor management solutions can help security monitor visitors more efficiently through text messages and watch lists (HID, 2021). Electronic locks card readers for exterior entrances can be an effective measure for staff, administration, and teachers monitoring. Schools can also use mobile credentials for all building visitors, making identification easier. Thus, the listed measures can be used for more effective and comfortable control over the entrance to schools and monitoring of their visitors for students.
Brady, B. (n. d.). Safer K-12 design: School should feel – and look – like school. Clarknexsen. Web.
CDC. (2020). Safe and supportive school environments [PDF document]. Web.
Fiddiman, B., Jeffrey, A., & Sargrad, S. (2018). Smart investments for safer schools. Center for American Progress. Web.
HID. (2021). How K-12 can strengthen security and enable safer schools [PDF document]. Web.