Use Facility Design to Improve School Safety

File under things I wish didn't exist: intruder lockdown drills. One of the littles I know doesn't mind them too much — his class hides in the coat closet, where it's dark and warm, so he usually takes a quick nap. Sometimes his teacher sings a little whispered song to keep them calm. 

Thankfully, there’s a lot facility managers can do to improve school security beyond lockdown drills — without trying to harden the building into a fortress. It has a lot to do with creating time for first responders to arrive, making schools less attractive targets by controlling access, and being able to keep eyes on the approach to the school. In this Building Operating Management article, Brian Minnich, who served as the national co-chair for the subcommittee on K-12 Education for the American Institute of Architects Committee on Architecture for Education, goes over the main principles of CPTED, the crime prevention through environmental design strategy. “At its core, CPTED is based on the concept that when people know that they are being watched they are less likely to commit a crime. At the same time, being able to see a crime, as it happens — or better yet, to see the signs before a crime happens — is the best way to protect yourself,” he says.

What have you done to improve the safety of your school facility, while keeping it a welcoming, productive, and happy place to learn? Please share your best practices in the comments below. 

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