The Importance of a Lockdown System for Schools
School safety is an ever-present concern, and a crucial aspect of ensuring security is having an effective lockdown system in place. A lockdown system for schools is an essential tool that helps safeguard students, staff, and visitors during potential threats or emergencies. This blog will outline the importance of a lockdown system, discuss the types of situations that require a lockdown, provide insights and advice on conducting an effective lockdown, as well as tips for selecting solutions to help your school conduct a lockdown.
Why Lockdown Systems are Valuable Safety Tools
Initiating a school lockdown often occurs because there is a serious threat to student and teacher safety. A lockdown system can serve as a core element of a school’s emergency preparedness plan. It helps make structured plans actionable for managing various crises and enabling school officials to have quick and coordinated responses. Whether it is unwanted visitors approaching school grounds, or nearby police activity that may encroach on school activities, a lockdown system enables schools to have proactive measures to ensure everyone’s safety.
Types of Situations Requiring a Lockdown
School lockdowns are typically required for two types of scenarios.
- Internal Threats: Threats inside a school pose an immediate risk to students and teachers. This could be a fight that breaks out in a hallway, an armed intruder entering the building, or an active shooter situation unfolding. Locking down a school helps isolate potential threats and restricts their movement within your buildings, limiting their ability to harm others.
- External Threats: Situations involving nearby criminal or dangerous activity, such as armed robberies, police pursuits, or gas leaks, may require your school to go into lockdown. School officials have a duty of care they need to fulfill for their students and staff and that includes preventing them from entering potentially dangerous situations. Instituting a lockdown can keep everyone in a safe environment until the danger has passed.
Conducting an Effective Lockdown
When one of those two types of threats is identified, it’s essential that your school can execute a successful lockdown. Below are some steps schools have taken to help facilitate locking down their buildings.
- Instant Alerts: Send out text, audio, and visual alerts with a comprehensive notification system. Using multiple alerting methods helps ensure everyone receives the message and has clear instructions on what they should do during times of distress.
- Automatic Door Locking: Being able to automatically lock doors via contact closures ensures all classroom and exterior doors lock immediately. Automatic door locking prevents unauthorized access and helps reduce the threat of compounding emergencies during a crisis.
- Clear Communication: Keep communication channels open between teachers, staff, and security personnel. They should be able to relay updates and information to ensure everyone’s safety, reduce confusion, and instill confidence that the emergency is being addressed
- Account for Students: Have tools that enable teachers to account for students during a lockdown to help identify who is safe and who may need assistance.
- Monitoring and Response: Security cameras and monitoring systems should be in place to identify problem areas, track the situation as it happens, and provide real-time updates to school officials and local law enforcement if necessary.
- Follow Procedures: Ensure that staff and students are well-versed in lockdown procedures and understand the steps they need to take. This could include turning off lights, moving students away from windows, and creating additional barriers to classroom entryways. Conduct regular drills to familiarize everyone with the process, reducing confusion during an actual lockdown event and allowing students and staff to feel confident in the procedures keeping them safe.
Lifting the Lockdown and the “All Clear”
Once the proper personnel have neutralized the threat and it is safe to do so, it is essential to lift the lockdown in an organized manner to resume normal operations and avoid unnecessary confusion and stress.
- Assessment: Assess the situation and confirm that the threat has been resolved and it is safe to resume normal operations.
- Communication: Then, send out an “all clear” notification through the communication channels used for the lockdown alert. This alert ensures everyone is aware that the danger has passed.
- Controlled Resumption of Activities or Reunification: Depending on the severity of the situation, schools may deem that normal school activities should resume or students should be evacuated from the building and reunited with their guardians. Make sure this is communicated clearly to staff and students so maintain order during disruptive situations.
Choosing the Right Lockdown System for Schools
If your school does not have the tools in place to accomplish the strategies outlined above, consider the following questions when reviewing potential options:
- Will our school be able to send text, audio, and visual alerts during a lockdown?
- Can this tool integrate with our existing security infrastructure to help automatically lock doors and provide real-time insights?
- Is it user-friendly, so school officials can easily initiate a lockdown during stressful and chaotic situations?
- Does it offer capabilities to help us account for students during a crisis?
- Will it help our school quickly resume normal operations or reunite students with guardians?
These are just a few of the questions schools should consider when evaluating lockdown systems. By preparing for different scenarios, conducting regular drills, and investing in the right technology, schools can create a secure environment that prioritizes the well-being of all.
If you are seeking comprehensive technology integrations for your school’s lockdown needs, learn about what our InformaCast mass notification and incident management software has to offer. InformaCast provides the necessary tools for effective lockdowns, including text, audio, and visual alerts and seamless communication, empowering you to enhance safety at your school. Visit our Schools & Districts page to learn more about how we can help you find the right solution for your school’s security needs.