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School Security a K-12 Focus


By Dan Hounsell Security
outdoor CCTV monitoring at a school

Summer is the traditional catch-up time for maintenance and engineering departments in K-12 schools. With students gone and activity in the building at a minimum, managers and their staffs finally can attend to projects and areas of their facilities that have gone unaddressed during the school year.

Unfortunately for many districts, this summer is the time to address an issue far more pressing than painting projects or boiler tube cleaning. The issue is hardening schools against the threat of active shooters. Consider two recent developments.

In the Lockport (N.Y.) City School District, the surveillance system that has kept watch on students entering schools for over a decade is getting a novel upgrade, according to The Independent. Facial recognition technology soon will check each face against a database of expelled students, sex offenders and other possible troublemakers.

The idea behind the Lockport system is to enable security officers to quickly respond to the appearance of expelled students, disgruntled employees, sex offenders or certain weapons the system is programmed to detect. Officials say it is the first school district in the country to adopt the system it is installing.

In Arkansas, the state’s fire code is changing to address a problem popping up all across the nation — active shooters. Jonesboro Fire Marshal Jason Wills says a big concern has been the safety of students, according to KAIT-TV.

“The forefront concern is what to do with school safety,” Wills said. “Fire alarms, in particular, and that relationship to an active shooter. The state fire codes are recognizing this, as are fire code officials across the United States. We’re trying to make good decisions and know what to do with this.”

Wills said one major change is school evacuations.

“As fire code officials across the state,” Wills said. “We’ve decided instead of evacuating a school immediately with the activation of a fire alarm, we’re allowing staff check first. Is there smoke present? Is there fire present? What’s the immediate reason for this fire alarm going off? Do investigation first instead of an immediate evacuation.”

This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell — dan.hounsell@tradepressmedia.com — editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, and chief editor of Facilitiesnet.com.

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