In the wake of tragedies such as the Newtown, Conn., shooting, school security concerns have become a hot topic. Much of the discussion centers on guns — who should have them and what kind. But in those conversations, some of the most obvious solutions are overlooked. Smart architecture — thoughtful design and planning about how someone enters a school building — can be the simplest and most effective way to deter or impede predators.
As the owner of TriArch, an architectural firm that designs K-12 schools, I'm shocked at how many schools are designed to allow people to enter at an area with immediate access to hundreds of students, in hallways or even in cafeterias. With a simple remodel, most schools can create a vestibule that requires visitors to be channeled through a secure area by administrative staff. While not foolproof, in many instances this would slow a predator enough for a warning to be issued throughout the school and give more time for law enforcement to respond.
Also, adding hardware that allows teachers to lock their doors from the inside can save dozens of lives. In Newtown, the shooter actually skipped a classroom that was locked from the inside and went on to the next one.
Let's make school safety a top concern at the basic level and consider the design of the buildings to which we entrust our children.
Scott Vrooman, Tulsa
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