Best Practices of School Safety

Controlled entrances are considered a best practice of school safety as they help enforce the 5D’s of security, which include:

Deterring someone from considering doing wrong.

Detecting someone who is visiting or new to the property.

Denying someone simple access to the property without properly validating their reasons for being there.

Delaying someone for freely accessing the educational spaces

Defending or mitigating against someone’s ability to freely enter the facility with the intent of doing wrong.


Additionally, these controlled entrances provide several improvements benefiting the day-to-day management of operations, such as:

Visitor management and accountability – Knowing who is in the building, why they are there and if are they are who they say they are

Situational awareness – knowing when someone is at the door in order to be prepared to welcome them to the campus or alert the proper authorities.

Mitigation to delay free unwarranted access – controlling the movement of visitors, whether authorized or unauthorized, at the school’s entrance before allowing access into the interior of the building.


To help educate school administrators, planners, architects, engineers and other professionals with best practices on making schools safe from terrorist attacks and school shootings, the Department of Homeland Security published the Second Edition of FEMA 428, Primer to Design Safe School Projects in Case of Terrorist Attacks.


As stated in the Primer, “To control access and limit intrusion, visitors should be guided to a single control point and required to pass directly through to administration reception areas when entering or leaving the school. The combination of a main entry with a carefully located and constantly staffed administration area can enhance the supervision of school entries, stairs, and hallways without the need for an additional assigned monitor. The main entry area should be positioned to allow for unobstructed surveillance of lobby doors, stairwells, and perpendicular hallways. Placing the administrative area on an exterior wall allows additional surveillance and a distant view of outside areas, especially visitor parking, drop-off areas, and exterior routes leading up to the main entrance.”


“Buildings and Infrastructure Protection Series. Primer to Design Safe School Projects in Case of Terrorist Attacks and School Shootings,” Department of Homeland Security, FEMA-428/BIPS-07/January 2012, Edition 2


Controlled entrances are also recommended and considered a best practice by educational and security industry publications and professionals:


“Best Practices for School Safety and Security,” International Association of Chiefs of Police, Dec. 2004:

It is recommended to "structure the main entry point to physically alter and impede school access while allowing for easy monitoring through the use of reception windows, glass walls, or view rooms coupled with electronic access systems."


“Maintaining a Secure Environment,” School Planning & Management Magazine, Dec. 2014:

“Entry vestibules, considered a best practice on many campuses, allow access to the office, yet create an additional barrier — one last locked door — between the visitor and classrooms.”


“Designing Safe Facilities," District Administration Magazine, Sept. 2011:

The first security priority for schools is always student and staff safety, with entry control as the main focus.” [Entrances] “should also be well-lit, equipped with alarms, locked from the inside, and require non-school personnel to undergo screening before admittance. Once inside, visitors should sign in at the main office, state the reason for their visit, and don identification badges."

©2015 Weatherford ISD