September 19, 2023
Time To Break Down Silos To Help Promote Security Measures in K-12 Schools
Security approaches K-12 schools can take to help ensure their students are safe learning at home or at their desks in the classroom.
Safety in schools has become a very complex issue; it is no longer as simple as stopping a bully on the playground. Every day students can encounter a wide array of safety issues, including cyberattacks and physical attacks.
One barrier to implementing security in schools is inadequate or inconsistent communication across departments, staff and leadership. Communication is sometimes dangerously siloed, creating a culture where only certain people know or have access to critical information, causing difficulty in identifying patterns and possible risky situations.
To keep students as safe as possible from cyber or physical attacks, schools must implement comprehensive security measures and put proactive plans in place. Information critical to student, staff and personnel safety, both in person and online, must be openly shared across all appropriate departments. When communication is siloed, it can waste valuable time in preventing and or resolving security incidents. Communication across all areas helps to assess risks, protect vulnerabilities and implement a successful security program.
In addition to breaking down silos, a strong school security program should take a holistic view of modern risks. At CDW•G, we work with educational institutions to build a strategy that covers the four pillars of school safety.
4 Pillars of School Safety
The four pillars of school safety is a well-rounded approach to the unique security needs of a school and its students. The pillars work together to not only be reactive to threats but also to be proactive and help prevent them.
The four pillars are:
1. Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity measures, such as password protection, multifactor authentication (MFA), and mobile device management are critical to keep schools as safe as possible. With these measures in place, the administration can help ensure that the school is safe from bad actors that would like to access the school’s information through any of the school’s devices.
2. Physical security: Schools is working hard to keep their students and staff as safe as possible. For this to be accomplished they need all the help technology can offer. Cameras, environmental sensors, weapon detection and facial recognition software are a few tools that can assist schools in their efforts. It is critical to have physical security measures that can provide a quick response in a high-stakes situations. For example, an alarm system that can quickly alert authorities to an unwanted intruder. A faster response time can help save lives.
3. Prevention: A threat assessment process managed by the school district can help pinpoint violent behavior or words and ensure that an at risk child receives attention and any threat is neutralized. Prevention systems look at social media, conversations on school provided devices and conversations heard in the hallways. This is one example where communication is key — departments across physical security and cybersecurity must communicate with building and district resources. Identifying a pattern of behavior can help raise red flags and create an opportunity for educators or other trained professionals intervene before a situation becomes dangerous.
4. Social emotional learning: This is where all three of the previous pillars work in unison. This area of security considers the students’ behavior with and in the presence of teachers, communicated to counselors, heard in hallways or seen in their social media. Catching problematic behavior early-on can help school professionals reach out to a child and provide mental health assistance. Developing healthy coping mechanisms can be the difference in a student’s social-emotional outcomes.