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5 Considerations for Designing a Safe School

Whether you’re designing an elementary school or a university campus, educational campus planning comes with a unique set of challenges. With a little extra planning, however, a secure campus can be developed with ease. Here are a few elements to keep in mind during the design process to ensure maximum school safety.

Secure School Perimeter

Consider utilizing building walls or decorative concrete elements to create a safe boundary for the school, protecting occupants and preventing unwanted persons from entering. In urban settings, building walls can be designed nearly flush with sidewalks to establish a secure perimeter. Although fences may seem to be an attractive solution for campus security, they aren’t as effective at preventing trespassing. Additionally, fences can decrease student morale and make campuses feel closed-in and prison-like, so this is another reason to avoid them.

Adequate Surveillance

To ensure school campuses are secure both day and night, security cameras and/or alarm systems are a must. Consider employing an integrated system that includes both, with the option for remote monitoring to maximize student safety and easily alert proper authorities in the event of any suspicious activity.

Sufficient Lighting

Lighting may seem obvious, but ensuring there is ample indoor and outdoor lighting will help keep students and staff safe while walking throughout the school. Lighting is particularly important on short winter days when students may be arriving to campus in the dark. Night lighting will also support a safe campus, as nighttime break-ins can be dissuaded with continuous indoor and outdoor light.

Minimal Entry Points

In all schools, but especially in the case of primary schools, minimizing the number of entry points into the school building will prevent unwanted visitors. One main entry at a central location to major buildings is sufficient to maintain consistent student traffic into each building. Additional exit-only doors can be added to ensure quick evacuation of building occupants is possible in the event of a fire or other emergency.

Classroom Safe Zones

Classrooms should include one or more “safe zones” located behind a wall or at least out of the line of sight of windows. To enhance these safe zones, include design elements like easy-to-draw shades for quick cover during a lockdown and security glass for windows to prevent break-ins.

With these considerations included in your design plan, a safe campus is well within reach for nearly any budget. Investment in safety-oriented details will have immeasurable payout of a secure campus for many years to come.

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