School safety plans and security assessments should be revisited at least annually to accommodate changes in faculty and staff, modifications to the physical campus, advancements in technology, and current risk assessment.

SAIS accreditation standards require that schools show evidence of ongoing maintenance of all applicable fire, safety, and health codes, as well as policies that describe the school’s safety procedures.

There are many organizations that offer support for schools as they plan for the safety of their students and staff. We have collected resources to guide school leaders as they develop and update training, policies, and procedures for safe and secure schools.

Resources from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

CISA has developed a comprehensive K-12 School Security Guide and dynamic assessment tools.

This guide demonstrates how taking a systems-based approach to school physical security planning can help schools create safe and secure learning environments – without requiring school staff to become security experts or compromising the broader educational mission.

The 2022 3rd edition of the K-12 School Security Guide recognizes that each school is unique and encourages a layered, systems-based approach. This comprehensive guide reviews several topics, offering discussion-generating questions to use with your team as you think through the school’s physical security system. Sample questions include the following:

  • What site and/or building design features are in place at each layer to detect, delay, and respond to threats?
  • What are the measures that communicate that a safety-related incident is occurring or about to occur?
  • How would existing policies and measures already in place across campus delay the threat, and for how long?

The guide outlines who to include on a security planning team, how to gather relevant data, and how to conduct both a threat and vulnerability analysis. Using this information, schools can develop or revise a security plan that details current measures, identifies existing gaps, and plans for future action items. The guide provide examples of measures for the detection, delay, and response to incidents and identifies potential challenges and tradeoffs in each example.

CISA also offers a free web-based School Security Assessment Tool. A short instructional video allows for easy implementation of the tool and explains many of the tool’s features, such as the following:  

  • Information about your school is loaded into the tool.
  • A variety of security scenarios are presented.
  • Specific follow-up questions are asked pertaining to the chosen scenario and existing security measures.
  • The tool asks about the degree of the team’s confidence in their ability to detect or delay a threat.
  • Results are presented, identifying policies, plans, or functions that may be missing and security measures where performance is uncertain.
  • Recommendations are given for adjustments and improvements; these recommendations are sorted by policy, training, staff, additional measures, cost, and impact on school climate.

Additional Safety and Security Resources

The National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of School Resource Officers, and Safe and
Sound Schools have partnered to provide this guidance on armed assailant training.

A behavioral threat assessment policy can help those in a close-knit independent school identify unusual behaviors and quickly intervene.

Topic specific resources to support school safety planning and education.

Schools should have crisis plans that reflect the possibility of an active shooter situation on campus as well as the resources to support students and staff who may be traumatized by such events on campus or highlighted in the news. 

Common actions that you should consider in creating a safe school environment

Access insightful and timely updates from the Joffe team and guest experts.

Helping schools understand some of the common practices across SAIS member schools

Find resources and contacts from federal and local agencies in each state.

Self-assessment tool school leaders can use to help understand the strengths and gaps in their safety program and what to prioritize in the immediate and the long term

Online guide to hiring, evaluating, and maintaining a great security team

When combined, different access control security technologies can provide a holistic approach to safety and help prevent incidents on campuses.

Options-based active-shooter response training programs have resulted in more casualties than other methods. So why are many schools still using them?

Comprehensive assessment and redesign of school safety approaches may pay dividends.