Physical Security of University Campus During Virtual Learning

Physical Security of University Campus During Virtual Learning | Delta Scientific

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the start of another school year has brought uncertainty to many college and university campuses across the country. Institutions of higher education have debated the correct way to mitigate the threat of exposure to the potentially deadly virus while meeting the educational needs of all students. Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most have either adopted a hybrid learning model, combining in-person instruction with virtual learning, or gone to virtual learning only. According to the CDC, the risk of transmission with hybrid learning is low to medium. Virtual-only instruction represents the lowest risk of infection with COVID-19.

Understandably, most of the discussion around virtual learning involving security has focused on cyber security. Nevertheless, an empty campus, or one with a reduced population of students and faculty, represents its own challenges when it comes to physical security.

Campus Security Risks

A campus that is closed, or open to relatively few people at a time, is more vulnerable to trespassers. With fewer eyes and ears alert to possible security threats, unauthorized personnel are better able to avoid detection while sneaking onto the premises for illicit purposes.

An empty, or nearly empty, campus may be more vulnerable to vandals and thieves. Vandals could move with near impunity throughout the campus, possibly for hours, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage. Recent unrest due to COVID and other issues has led to vandalism of campuses as a form of protest, but there are also still those who commit such acts for the sake of thrill-seeking alone.

When faculty and staff are largely providing virtual learning and student services from home, laboratories and offices likely have a lot of expensive electronic equipment just sitting unattended. Bad actors may feel free to simply help themselves to whatever they can carry away, to be resold later.

Practical Security Solutions

Even before the pandemic hit, education technology providers realized that campus security was more effective when it integrated digital and physical defenses, though in the past these had been separate. At Delta Scientific, we also recognize that fact, which is why we offer early warning systems that incorporate doppler radar to detect vehicle speeds and customizable touch screens to control our barricades via built-in Ethernet communication.

Because it is still uncertain how long the pandemic will last, you might want to secure your campus against unauthorized vehicles in the interim but be unsure whether you want to commit to a permanent installation. If so, our portable barriers may be the solution you need. For example, the hydraulic system on our MP5000 rapid-deployment barrier allows set-up in 15 minutes. Nevertheless, it can stop a flatbed truck traveling 40 miles per hour and weighing 15,000. If you decide that you do not need it at all times when in-person classes resume, it can be towed away and stored.

The novel coronavirus has brought with it many complex security issues for college and university campuses. Administrators looking to optimize cybersecurity for virtual learning and implement effective safety measures for in-person instruction should not overlook the importance of physical security, either now or when students return to campus following the pandemic.