Security Strategies for Reopening K-12 Schools in a Covid-19 World

While no one has been left unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, K-12 schools and our nation’s children are facing their own unique set of challenges. Temporary school closures have been extended for the remainder of the school year in most states. Traditional classroom learning has been replaced by Zoom classes. And after school activities and entire sports seasons have been cancelled.

Although some believed to be back just weeks after schools closed, most schools are closed for the remainder of the school year, and even a return to normalcy in the fall is no longer certain. Many teachers’ unions and district officials are against resuming in-person learning until widespread testing for the coronavirus is available and new technology for temperature checks and contact tracing for those who show symptoms is implemented. Meanwhile, as school buildings remain closed, officials must weigh the costs of students falling severely behind in an online format that is unable to provide the same rigor and depth of instruction that is necessary.

Returning to school buildings in the fall is a goal that will demand officials find new ways to ensure the safety of students and staff. A proper security system that offers the technology to track, trace and contain infection will be the best measure to calm the fear and uncertainty of returning to campus. Building a security system with integration to touchless access control, visitor management, temperature sensors and other AI technology that can be managed on a remote management software will be key to adapting to this new environment.

Here are our top recommendations you should consider for keeping students safe and secure in a post COVID-19 world.

1. Rethink Access Credentials

It’s important to take a good, hard look at the current access permissions you have set for your building. Think about when and where each person with an access credential to the school should be allowed to enter during the pandemic. Implementing a rotating access schedule, visitor management policies, and clear internal communication are great steps to keeping your district safe.

“Communication is the most important,” says Will Duke, CEO of 3Sixty Integrated. “If the access rules have changed for getting into the school, communicate who has access and where and when. Be super transparent, otherwise you’ll have a lot of frustrated people.”

At the same time, it is vital to identify those outside of your organization who may have access credentials to your building. Re-consider whether you want any of these external visitors to still have access during this time, and then decide when and where they should be able to go.

These permissions will most likely continue to change as the pandemic progresses, and school staff are potentially granted fuller access to their classrooms to prep for the next school year.

2. Update Systems Now

Many school districts are taking advantage of empty buildings and requesting annual upgrades on their security systems to be performed early. Not only is it opportune to get projects on the summer to-do list crossed off in advance, but also it could reduce the overlap of people in the building when staff is finally allowed back in the fall. Advancing on security projects and new installations now could be imperative to preparing your district for reopening in a post-COVID-19 world.

3. Consider New Applications

While we all may be tired of the term ‘new normal,’ there’s no denying that the coronavirus will change everything about the way our world operates in the future, and school security is far from exempt.

Now is the perfect time to look at the security technologies you currently have in place, and what you may want to add to increase the safety of everyone coming in and out of the building before reopening.

Security System Management Software:

Finding a security system management software that offers flexibility and ease of use to system owners is essential for managing systems remotely. At 3Sixty Integrated we use SiteOwl, a security system management software that helps users design, install, and manage security systems with full visibility. SiteOwl helps users:

  • View real-time installation tracking, reports and metrics,
  • Ensure quality control with organized floor plans, technician notes, pictures and signoffs,
  • Seamlessly manage and share designs with key project stakeholders and system integrators,
  • Work with internal and external teams seamlessly using the site’s design tools, and
  • Improve team accountability and transparency.

A remote solution like SiteOwl allows customers and security integrators to collaborate effectively and easily, in turn saving everyone time, effort and money. Security providers must be able to accommodate to this changing environment and ensure your system nor the safety of your organization is disrupted.

“It’s hard to think about what you want without being able to see it, so the fact that we can discuss designs virtually makes things a lot easier,” says 3Sixty Integrated Engineer Richard McKinney. “If you don’t have these tools in place, you’re kind of handicap. But with SiteOwl, you can share a screen, and it gets transferred from the design page straight to the installation.”

Richard McKinney, 3Sixty Integrated Engineer

Once the project is finished, system owners can manage, monitor, and maintain their security infrastructure with ease on SiteOwl. A cloud-based security system management platform, like SiteOwl, can isolate problems quickly and eliminate long and costly service calls by having all device information stored in one place.

Touchless Access Technology:

One new technology many districts are considering to keep their students and staff safe is touchless access control options. From now on, everyone will become much more conscious of what they touch. A door-handle that hundreds or thousands of people come into contact with every day will feel like a relic of the past. Hands-free doors with access control— at least in the front main entrance and in bathrooms — can play a huge role in keeping the spread of germs at bay.

With a cloud-based access control software, officials will have the ability to share access, lock, or unlock buildings remotely with this fast, reliable and hands-free technology. Touchless access control allows for smart integration with your existing system and offers students, teachers, and staff the access to buildings without minimizing safety.

Temperature Sensors:

While you may not associate them as a part of your current security system, temperature sensors are pivotal to upgrading your schools security and mitigating the spread of the virus. These sensors offer the ability to track the temperature of every entrant in a quick, safe and non-invasive way so you’re able to send sick students, staff, and visitors home before they even enter the building. An integrator can help make sure your district has created the proper policies for integrating temperature sensors into your security policies.

Fever detection sensors have the potential to be one of the most beneficial technologies in response to COVID-19 and implementing them on campus could reduce the risk of spread significantly.

Visitor Management Systems:

Visitor management systems may also need to be heightened, as the threat of COVID-19 entering and spreading through a school remains. Having the right policies and procedures enabled for contact tracing will be necessary for reopening campus securely.

Having a unified visitor management system would streamline visitor registration, tracking and reporting and facilitate the ability for contact tracing and exposure detection once the virus enters campus. If integrated properly with video software, school officials would have the ability to quickly trace and isolate areas of exposure. This technology could allow for expedited infection control, so when a student, staff member, or visitor shows signs of illness, every person they came into contact with could then be tracked, screened for the virus and contained.

Our best defense against the virus is implementing the right technology to ensure the safety and security of our students, staff and teachers. Understanding how we can use security technology to track, trace and contain a virus will be key to returning to campus in the fall and building back the confidence in school safety. The health risks on campus are unprecedented and our behavior to these concerns must match the tenacity and steadfastness of those working to protect us.

Installing access control, updated security systems and new technology will be decisive to your campus safety. With new innovations and technology designed to isolate risks and resist threats, your district will have the assurance necessary to return to campus.

3Sixty Integrated is committed to work in collaboration with school districts to design, install and manage a security system built for the post-COVID-19 world. Partnering with an experienced integrator, like 3Sixty Integrated, offers the flexibility to be nimble in a changing situation and the knowledge to guide you every step of the way. Feel free to contact us at (210) 545-1770.

More sources on electronic security:

Top 8 Trends to Watch in Security Integration
How To Create A Corporate Physical Security Strategy
The Top 5 Mistakes Made When Choosing Electronic Door Components