By Randy Mann
05/21/19 · Last Updated 10/12/20 · 4 minutes to read
Schools must have high security to protect young children from outside dangers so they are free to learn in a safe environment. But what if a school is on the same property as a church?
Because churches are typically open and accessible to everyone – both for Sunday morning worship services and community activities during the week – securing the facility can become incredibly complex.
But that’s the exact challenge we faced when building an integrated security solution for a Nashville church and school on the same grounds.
Separate But Integrated Security for Church and School
Our first concern when securing a grade school is preventing unauthorized entrance from the outside while young students are inside.
But unlike other schools, this one is affiliated with a church. The two entities are on the same property, but have very different access needs.
Here is how we created two different security systems to serve a school and a church on the same property.
Securing the School’s Main Entrance
To start, we consulted with the building’s architect to create a secure entrance for the school building. This was a critical and important first step to ensure the safety of the students.
This secure entrance to the school includes the following components:
- A secure vestibule. The main entrance funnels all visitors into a secure area. The only set of unlocked doors leads visitors into a vestibule or ante-room where they must interface with a staff member before they are permitted access through any other locked doors. With this layout, it’s very difficult for a person without authorized access to enter the facility because all doors past the check-in window are locked. Also, this entrance layout gives staff members eyes on all visitors who enter the building. This allows them to describe the appearance and business of any visitor if something does go awry.
- A staffed check-in window. Once visitors enter the vestibule, they are greeted by a staff person behind bullet-resistant glass. This staff member greets the visitor and explains the access protocol for the rest of the facility.
- Identification and check-in. In order to get a visitor badge to enter the school, visitors must surrender their driver’s license and keys to the front desk attendant. This additional step offers an extra layer of security for the school.
- Controlled access visitor badges. Visitor badges utilize proximity technology that only allow guests to enter a second set of doors. Access is restricted to only those doors, and visitors must wear their badges at all times while on campus.
School Security Measures
Having the right technology and security system in place is incredibly important, but these tools can only do so much. To increase the security of your school, church or other facility, we recommend a number of safety protocols and procedures to complement the technology and ensure it’s being used properly.
School leadership did a tremendous job with this. Beyond the design of the building and system, administrators also implemented the following internal protocols to ensure safety beyond the front doors:
- Staff Escort. Visitors must also be accompanied by a staff member at all times on the property. This offers an added layer of oversight for anyone who visits the property.
- Security Cameras. All footage from security cameras is saved for a set period of time so that it can be reviewed later if an incident merits further investigation.
- Signage. Very clear permanent signage around the property guides visitors to their destinations. This helps visitors get where they need to go and keeps them from accessing places they shouldn’t be.
Oftentimes, it’s these extra steps that can make a big difference in the level of security at your facility. All of these processes, combined with top-notch security and access control systems, help keep kids safe and ready to learn.
Keeping the Church Accessible and Secure
The church has a very different security process compared to the school With thousands of parishioners attending Sunday morning worship services and hundreds more attending weekly activities facilitated by more than 50 staff members, the church is one of the biggest in Nashville!
The church uses its facilities not only for spiritual activities, but also for Girl Scout meetings, soccer leagues, swimming, preschool music classes, concerts and more. All of these activities require convenient access for the community.
Church Security Measures
To accomplish this open access approach, we worked with the church to implement the following security measures at their facility:
- Security system. To limit vandalism, theft and break-ins, the security system is activated when church buildings are not in use. This helps the church protect its resources so it can stay open at other times. The church and school utilize the same access control system so even when visitors are welcomed, they must enter through the offices. Authorized individuals utilize the same proximity technology to gain access to locked church entrances.
- Video surveillance. The church uses the same closed caption TV (CCTV) video surveillance system as the school. Video is captured for future review should an incident occur.
Church Safety Protocols
Much like the school, the church was smart to put additional protocols in place for an added layer of security. These procedures include the following:
- Facility Reservations. Community groups must have permission to use the space and make reservations in advance. This helps the church know who is on-site and prevents unauthorized use of the facilities.
- On-site staff. A staff member is always on site during any after-hours community use to ensure proper, safe use of the facility.
- Residential staff. A staff groundskeeper lives on the property and is trained to use the access control and security systems.
Integrated Security Systems for Churches and Schools
The church and school work together to keep the church property open and accessible, while maintaining a tight security presence on the school side of the property.
Thanks to an integrated security and video surveillance system combined with internal protocols, these two organizations were able to create a smart, effective and safe facility for all of their needs.