This article originally appeared in Campus Safety, published by Emerald, the publisher of Healthcare Design.
The numbers from this year’s Campus Safety Access Control and Lockdown Survey have been crunched, and the May 2022 Robb Elementary School mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, appears to have prompted many K-12 schools to pay much closer attention to campus security.
However, the Uvalde tragedy appears to not have impacted institutions of higher education as much. Colleges are lagging way behind their K-12 peers in conducting site assessments to identify security vulnerabilities at their facilities.
When comparing K-12 with higher education and healthcare survey takers, this year’s school respondents were the most likely to conduct frequent assessments: 27 percent said they conduct monthly assessments, and 13 percent said they conduct quarterly assessments, for a total of 40 percent.
Only 25 percent of institutions of higher education have conducted monthly or quarterly assessments. Twenty-seven percent said they don’t know how often their campuses conduct security assessments and 11 percent said their facilities never conduct these types of reviews. Put those two figures together, and that totals 38 percent of all college respondents.
Overall, more than one in five (22 percent) hospital, university, and K-12 respondents said they either don’t know (16 percent) or their campuses never (6 percent) conduct security site assessments.
When we asked survey participants when they last conducted security site assessments of their campuses, 80 percent of K-12 respondents and 78 percent of healthcare respondents said their facilities have done one within the year, while only 47 percent of institutions of higher education have done so.
Additionally, 33 percent of K-12 school respondents said the last time their campus conducted a security site assessment was this month, compared to only 13 percent of college respondents.
Nearly a third of colleges said they don’t know the last time their campus conducted a security site assessment, compared to 10 percent of K-12 respondents and 13 percent of healthcare respondents.
Most common access control solutions adopted: Locks and photo IDs
One could argue that the lack of site assessments conducted by institutions of higher education could be due to the fact that these types of campuses, along with healthcare facilities, are further ahead of K-12 schools in implementing security technologies.
For example, our survey found that more than 83 percent of college and healthcare respondents said their facilities have mechanical locks, compared to only 77 percent of K-12 schools and districts. Colleges and hospitals are also more likely to have electronic locks, wireless locks, wired locks, proximity card systems, smart card systems, biometrics, access control software, and electronic parking gates.
That said, K-12 schools are much more likely to have perimeter fences and window safety and/or security film installed than colleges or hospitals.
K-12 and healthcare respondents are much more likely than university respondents to have visitor management software (45 percent for K-12 and healthcare compared to only 11 percent for institutions of higher education). They are also much more likely to have secure entrance vestibules/mantraps.
Overall, mechanical locks, photo IDs, and electronic locks are the most common access control, lock, visitor management, and door hardware solutions on academic and healthcare campuses.
Safety via doors that lock from the inside
In addition to asking about security site assessments, which were new questions in this year’s Access Control and Lockdown Survey, Campus Safety asked survey participants if their campus classroom and office doors can be locked from the inside.
When comparing how K-12 and college survey participants responded to the classroom question, the differences were again significant. Fifty-seven percent of K-12 respondents said more than 90 percent of their classroom doors can be locked from the inside. That’s 16 percentage points more than colleges — only 31 percent of higher ed respondents said 91-100 percent of their classroom doors can be locked from the inside.
However, 10 percent of K-12 and 9 percent of higher ed respondents said that none of their classroom doors can be locked from the inside.
For office doors, although 58 percent of all respondents said more than 80 percent of these doors can be locked from the inside, there is considerable variation when the responses are broken down by sector.
Nearly two thirds (64 percent) of K-12 respondents said 81-100 percent of their office doors can be locked from the inside, compared to 53 percent percent of college survey takers, and only 44 percent from healthcare.
For campuses that can lock only 0-10 percent of their office doors from the inside, K-12 schools also lead the way at 18 percent, compared to 9 percent of colleges, and 7 percent of hospitals.
Only a small percentage of doors on campuses can be remotely locked by campus security or administrators.
There is significant variation among campus types as to the percentage of doors with working locks and hardware on them.
At 84 percent, K-12 respondents were the most likely to say that more than 80 percent of the locks and hardware on their doors are working properly. Nearly three in four (74 percent) said 91-100 percent have properly working locks and door hardware.
Comparing those results with the statistics from colleges and hospitals, only 70 percent of higher ed respondents said 81-100 percent of their door locks and hardware are properly working. The percentage of healthcare respondents who said more than 80 percent of their door hardware and locks are working properly is only 66 percent.
Campuses using door barricade devices
A question on door-blocking devices was also added to this year’s survey. A small percentage (15 percent) of respondents said they have purchased door-blocking/barricade devices. When broken down by sector, those percentages are:
K-12: 18 percent
Hospital: 17 percent
Higher Ed: 10 percent
The use of door-blocking/barricade devices has been debated because they generally don’t comply with fire codes or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (Editor’s note: Campus Safety has taken a stand as a brand against door barricade devices. To read more on this issue, click here.)
Campus security pros moderately confident in ability to prevent, mitigate incidents
Keeping in mind that the intent of campuses installing access control and lockdown solutions is to prevent and mitigate gun violence, domestic terrorism, and other types of crime, Campus Safety asked how confident respondents are in their organization’s ability to prevent and/or mitigate unauthorized intrusion, active shooter attacks, and active bomber attacks.
Respondents’ levels of confidence varied significantly.
K-12 and healthcare respondents said they are much more confident than college survey participants in their organization’s ability to prevent unauthorized intrusion. School and hospital average confidence levels are 3.77 and 3.49 (on a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being “not confident at all” and 5 being “very confident), respectively, compared to only 2.68 for higher ed.
For the most part, K-12 survey takers are somewhat more confident than their college and hospital peers in their organization’s ability to prevent active shooter attacks (3.38 vs. 2.62 and 2.53, respectively), and mitigate active bombings (3.14 vs. 2.77 and 2.50, respectively).
The only situation where all three types of campuses have somewhat similar confidence levels is active shooter mitigation: K-12’s average confidence level is 3.62, higher ed’s is 3.34, and healthcare’s is 3.17.
All three types of survey participants have the least confidence in their organization’s ability to prevent active bomber attacks: K-12’s average confidence level is 3.02, higher ed’s is 2.77, and healthcare’s is 2.50.
Campus Safety thanks the nearly 350 school, university, and healthcare security professionals who participated in our survey. We truly appreciate your input!
Robin Hattersley is Campus Safety’s editor-in-chief.