Unfortunately, public schools have become a target for violent activity, and security is a rising concern for parents and officials across the United States. Steps are being taken to reinforce elementary and secondary educational institutions, and new construction takes student and faculty safety as its primary concern.
However, there are key points that might be overlooked when designing or updating safer schools. Parking lots and vehicular access can prove to be a weakness, but the true challenge to overcome is retaining the educational aesthetic.
The Learning Look
In the past, school layouts looked very different. Long, unobstructed hallways and open classrooms with no place to hide meant that aggressors could easily find victims with these facilities. This has changed to be more accessible to those looking for protection when the worst occurs.
For example, architects in Fort Wayne, Indiana work to create a safe space for learners and teachers at their schools by adding more surveillance via windows and cameras while also creating hiding spots and secure locations. The trick is to “conceal” these measures with attractive colors and student artwork, ensuring the location still feels like a school.
In Plain Sight
One of the ways architects hope to thwart potential intruders is meant to be seen differently by students and their attackers. Windows offer clear lines of sight, both letting in light and allowing anyone approaching the institution to be plainly seen.
These windows create an environment of openness for learners and staff while psychologically limiting an aggressor’s lines of approach. While this is advantageous, it does rely on one other aspect of the landscape to be properly equipped to stave off or delay intruders, allowing more time for law enforcement to arrive: the parking lot.
The Great Wide-Open
Leaving lots open spaces for clear sightlines has benefits and can be modified to be even more effective with certain adjustments. Adding gated access to school grounds isn’t unheard of, and many can seem unassuming and benign, providing extra security without making students feel like prisoners in their own facility.
Bollards are an excellent resource as safety devices as well since they are designed to prevent vehicular access while looking innocuous. They can be used to bolster entrances and prevent violent vehicular egress through locked doors, and when spaced throughout the parking lot they are effective at creating a maze that limits free movement.
Keeping schools safe requires more than simply adding cameras and designing hallways with hiding nooks. Delta Scientific’s expert team of professionals will help plan the best layout for parking lots and other open exterior areas by utilizing the best security measures available, all while keeping schools looking less like a prison and more like a place of learning.