Safety Measures in Jewish Schools
Russell Bentley and I had the opportunity to work with another Jewish day school last week. The project involved helping the school and their architectural firm enhance safety, security and emergency preparedness during a renovation of one of the school’s campuses. Russell’s advanced expertise in school security hardware and school security technologies makes is a pleasure to work with him on these types of projects. We were both deeply impressed with the members of the school’s security force, facilities personnel, head of school and members of the school’s safety team. Like other Jewish schools we have assessed this year, we found the school safety team at this school to be a true joy to work with.
The school has already implemented many excellent security upgrades based on two previous security assessments, and were very receptive to some of the more advanced security and emergency preparedness concepts we covered. It is always an honor and a pleasure to work with such dedicated, caring and competent advocates for children, especially when we find good practices in place when first working with a new client.
Increased risk of terrorism creates challenges for all schools
With the significantly increased risk of terrorism in the United States, the Jewish school leaders we have worked with are particularly sensitive to this type of risk. The risk of school terrorism is remote, yet Jewish schools are among the types of schools that carry a unique inherent risk exposure relating to terrorism. The same would be true for schools that serve the children of diplomats, or other religious schools that face harassment and could serve as a target for a dangerous individual planning a symbolic attack. We have found that most of these “high risk” (quotes used because the risk is still statistically low) schools are also aware that turning their campuses into fortresses is not necessarily an effective way to achieve a reasonably secure environment. As an Israeli police commander told me when I went to Israel for anti-terrorism training – terrorists score a win as soon as schools are no longer schools due to overwhelming security measures. We cannot let terrorists or other violent people cause us to deny children the opportunity to attend a fun and enjoyable school experience. All schools must seek a good balance of effective security and a positive, caring environment.
Like public, charter, military and independent schools, Jewish schools have their own unique needs and challenges. Like all schools, the security threats Jewish schools face are constantly changing. Fortunately, there are many ways to meet these unfortunate realities without sacrificing their uniqueness and maintaining a pleasant atmosphere. My next security assessment is also for a Jewish day school and I am very much looking forward to this opportunity as well.
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