On October 27th, the Texas Education Agency proposed updates in school safety standards for districts across the state in response to the tragedy that occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. These new rules primarily mandate upgrades to exterior fencing, doors, and silent panic alarms, as many speculate the gunman was able to enter the school through an exterior door that, while closed, did not lock automatically. (Source)
Update: To assist with meeting these new regulations, on January 3, 2023, the TEA released the 2022-2025 School Safety Standard Formula Grant. This $400 million, non-competitive grant allocates a minimum of $200k in funding to all Texas school districts to ensure a safe and secure environment at all public schools.
But what exactly are the new regulations that educational facilities must abide by? And how can your district make sure to remain compliant with the new K-12 school safety standards?
The new rules can be organized into three distinct categories: Facility Components, Operating Requirements, and Maintenance Requirements. The provisions for each section mandate that “all school instructional facilities are secured by design, maintained to operate as intended, and appropriately monitored.” Here is a quick breakdown of what is included in each category.
The first category of safety updates pertains to the physical security components of the instructional facility. Exterior doors, exterior classroom doors, and portable doors are all now required to remain closed, locked, and latched, while also allowing for emergency egress from the inside. Similarly, roof doors should remain closed and locked when not in use. If a door is to remain unlocked during the instructional day, it must be actively monitored or within a secured area.
An actively monitored area is defined as: supervised by an adult who can visibly review visitors prior to entrance, who can take immediate action to close and/or lock the door, and whose duties allow for sufficient attention to monitoring.
School systems must implement the following safety and security standards for all instructional facilities:
- Exterior glass doors with windows must be modified to prevent intrusion (for example, using entry-resistant film)
- Automatic door locking after entry or egress (for example, using access control)
- Mechanism for doors to opened from inside when locked to allow for emergency egress
- Ability for re-entry via a master key (physical or electrical)
- Classrooms with exterior entry doors must be able to identify individuals seeking entry (via camera systems, intercom or window)
- Ground level windows must have a functional locking mechanism
- Communications infrastructure must be implemented (including two-way radios and panic alert buttons)
- Panic alert systems and emergency notifications must be implemented
Other facility elements that are required include exterior master key lock boxes, exterior door numbering, and radio signal repeaters where needed.
In addition to the new facility component regulations, schools must also update their operation protocols. Weekly exterior door sweeps must be performed to ensure all doors are properly closed, locked, and latched. Any issues that arise during these sweeps must be reported to the school safety and security committee and the campus principal.
School systems must implement the following safety and security standards for their operating requirements:
- Access control implementation
- Develop and maintain an accurate site layout and exterior door designation document
- Copies of exterior door numbering site plans are readily available at each campus main office
- Electronic copies or exterior door numbering site plans shall be supplied to local emergency responders
Lastly, all school systems must conduct maintenance checks twice annually to ensure that all security and facility components are fully operational and function as intended. The following areas must be certified as operational, and/or promptly remedied as deficiencies are discovered as a consequence of maintenance checks.
- Exterior doors
- Ground-level window locking mechanisms
- Perimeter barriers
- Panic alert and emergency notification systems
- Phones report location services
- Master key boxes
- Two-way radios
Compliance with New School Safety Standards
School systems must certify that these requirements are met within the 2022-2023 school year. Annually, compliance with the new school safety standards will be certified via an ongoing security audit. Additionally, districts are mandated to have contractors procured and a final timeline to complete all work required by August of 2023. We recommend that all education agencies review the full details of the school safety requirements.
How 3Sixty Integrated Can Help Your District
At 3Sixty Integrated, we know that school districts are constantly facing security risks that can put their students, faculty, staff, and visitors in danger. As a division of the Cook and Boardman group, 3Sixty Integrated and our sister branches have over 65 years of experience offering complete security solutions, from custom doors, frames and hardware to security integration technology. Contact us today to see how 3Sixty Integrated can help your school district take full advantage of this grant opportunity and ensure a safe and secure campus