Establishing a Safe Learning Environment

Many schools have increased their vigilance regarding those who enter their buildings.  Procedures include single entry points, requiring visitors to request permission to enter by communicating with main office personnel, vestibule video cameras, adult or (sometimes) student escorts, and security personnel stationed at common entry points among other strategies.

While ensuring a safe learning environment is not arguable practical constraints very often determine the strategies and procedures that can be effectively employed in achieving this result.   Frequently, cost is at the top of the list.  But schools have found ways to fund efforts to provide safe learning environments.

Despite the implementation of such procedures I have seen people (myself included) wandering around schools that I have had the opportunity to visit not having checked –in, not being escorted, not wearing visitor identification.   Yet the money has been spent on efforts to secure entry.

Are those of us responsible for implementing security strategies and procedures truly paying attention, making a personal commitment, putting forth the effort to make sure that, to the best of our abilities, schools remain a safe place to spend time?

How effective is restricted access in establishing a safe learning environment?

Raymond J. Dagenais, Ed.D. is a Curriculum/Professional Development Specialist at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and a co-leader of the Design Team for the Aurora University based John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School

2 thoughts on “Establishing a Safe Learning Environment

  1. Sandy Pope says:

    Working on research and student teacher observations in about 20 NYC schools, I’ve noticed a lot of variation. In some schools I always have to provide ID and sign in–even if the security guard knows my name–while in others I just walk past the metal detector and into the halls with barely a nod. Aside from the safety risk that I could pose, it seems like it sends bad messages to the students. What does it mean that some people (in my experience, white adults like myself, mostly) get to just ignore the safety procedures in place?

  2. Marcia Bolton says:

    I have found the opposite to be true…thankfully. I frequently visit field experience candidates and student teachers and am always happily directed to the office for a badge or identifying sticker. I hope this will always be the case, as I am very wary of a building I can enter without even checking in at the office; much less giving my name to the secretary. There are one or two buildings I have visited recently without a door bell or locked door; but thankfully these buildings are not the rule but the rare occasion. Maybe I have not had the opportunity to freely walk around a building without regard as I am diligent about seeking out the office and correctly identifying myself as a visitor. Could it be safety is held in our intent to enter a school to have a safe visit or to inflict harm? Schools should not become jails for those inside, keeping locked doors and armed guards, but they must protect those innocent lives within their walls. Locked doors that guide all to the front office is a start on the correct path…but a change in mindset is crucial as well. I am not sure how that will be accomplished but something has to be done to deter the carnage in our schools.

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