If your integration firm is involved with school security projects in any way, then take note: Earlier this year, the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS K-12) released the sixth edition of its Safety and Security Guidelines for K-12 Schools.  

First released in 2015, these guidelines act as a how-to document for securing schools. As risks and technologies change, so do the recommendations. The guidelines aren’t one-size-fits-all; instead, they offer tiered recommendations based on school requirements, budgets, risk profile and other characteristics. The result: practical, realistic approaches to building up defenses in different areas. 

The Safety and Security Guidelines for K-12 Schools approach school security across five physical layers:  

  1. Districtwide
  2. Property perimeter
  3. Parking lot perimeter
  4. Building perimeter
  5. Classroom/interior perimeter 

This not only makes access more difficult, but also ensures continued protection if one layer of a security plan is broken or breached. 

In terms of safeguards, the Safety and Security Guidelines for K-12 Schools is focused primarily on physical security and life safety. Recommendations are limited to equipment, technology, and related policies and procedures. These include crime prevention tactics, tips for staff training and guidance on creating a crisis preparation strategy. 

Within each relevant layer, recommended best practices are offered for things like: 

  • Access control
  • Architectural components
  • Communication
  • Cybersecurity and network infrastructure
  • Detection and alarms
  • Roles and training
  • Security policies and procedures
  • Transportation
  • Video surveillance
  • Visitor management

The guidelines are also technology agnostic, meaning that you can use whatever systems the school needs or wants in order to achieve their security goals.

The 2023 update improves on the previous five versions of the guidelines, making the recommendations even more streamlined, easier to use and more reflective of evolving school security challenges. 

It includes updates like:

  • More focused recommendations on best practices to identify areas that need improvement.
  • Changes to security tiers for clarity. For example, it’s now recommended that all schools and districts work to meet Tier One measures, regardless of location, budget, or risk profile.
  • Enhancements to classroom security guidelines. 
  • A new section dedicated to covering enhanced technologies. It details emerging solutions that show potential but haven’t been widely adopted yet, including weapons detection, analytics, emergency communications and biometrics. 

The sixth edition of the Safety and Security Guidelines for K-12 Schools also advises integrators on how to successfully increase involvement in security projects among key stakeholders, such as community members, local law enforcement members, parents, school board members, staff members and students.

Download the newest version of the guidelines now.

As your integration firm works with K-12 clients to create safe school plans, the most recent version of the Safety and Security Guidelines for K-12 Schools document can serve as your true north. You can also bring these guidelines to the attention of your local schools to help them start their own conversations about school safety and security.

“When you pull out a roadmap, you’re looking for where you are, where you’ve been, where you’re going, and how to get there. Through our guidelines and checklist tools, we help stakeholders answer three questions: What should we do? How do we prioritize? Where do we start?” says NSCA CEO and PASS K-12 Chair Chuck Wilson. “The guidelines are about building awareness for the proven methods that really work best when it comes to securing schools.”

Thanks to volunteer contributors and PASS Partners, these guidelines are free for schools and systems integrators to download. 

What Is PASS?

PASS brings together expertise from the education, public safety and technology industry communities to develop and support an appropriate and coordinated approach to making effective use of proven and vetted security practices specific to K-12 environments, as well as informed decisions on security investments. 

PASS resources are tools for objective analysis by school officials, community stakeholders and solutions providers for assessing their current state and prioritizing school safety and security needs. 

Remember: Modern and effective security infrastructure is an essential element of any comprehensive school safety strategy, but not the only element. When other prevention efforts fail, facility security measures are critical to protection, mitigation and response.

Interested in becoming a PASS Partner? Visit PASSK12.org.