This article was previously published on August 24, 2017 and updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.

Many high schools and universities in America opt for an open campus policy. An open campus allows students to leave the school grounds during lunch or free periods. Spirited debates have persisted between administrators, teachers, and parents about the benefits and drawbacks of open campus policies.

Many students appreciate the freedom that an open-campus policy provides. However, there are significant safety and security concerns schools must address when implementing an open campus policy. It’s imperative to keep students and faculty safe with appropriate security measures for this setup. Here’s what you can do to keep everyone protected.

1. Know Who’s Coming and Going

Access control systems are among the best tools for securing classrooms, administrative buildings, recreational areas, etc. They are particularly useful for colleges and high schools that have multiple accessible buildings around campus.

Each faculty member and student receives a personalized I.D. card that permits access to all or specific buildings during a set timeframe. For example, the teachers’ lounge door or faculty offices could be unlocked only with a faculty I.D.

Access control systems record when individuals enter and exit the building, giving school security personnel a log of when students come and go from the school’s campus. Additionally, intercom systems can be utilized to communicate with people outside the building if card access is denied or to give certain people, such as delivery personnel, special access to the building. Administrators can also lock/unlock doors remotely anytime, anywhere using a mobile device.

2. Keep a Watchful Eye Over Campus

Security cameras have become ubiquitous in how modern schools operate. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, over 99% of schools have at least one security camera on campus. Security cameras are key for security personnel to maintain a watchful eye, especially for schools where students can come and go as they please. Additionally, school administrators can use a mobile device to view video monitoring feeds on the go.

Cameras should be optimally positioned for surveillance of all areas, with special attention to high-traffic buildings, entrances and exits, and the parking lot that students may use when they leave and return to the school’s campus. Keep in mind that cameras are not permitted in private places, such as restrooms and locker rooms.

Utilize Alarms for Emergencies

A monitored alarm system is an all-encompassing solution to keeping your school safe as an open-campus environment. Your school’s alarm system should be set to emit a sound when certain entrances are breached, or other emergencies are present. Furthermore, the alarm system should be linked to a mass communication system that alerts students who may be off campus via text or email about an emergency occurring in the building.

Protecting students and staff with an open campus policy is a challenge, which is why it’s important to partner with industry-leading security experts to get the job done. Our team at Vector Security can help manage any security challenges or security gaps you currently face and will work with you to ensure your campus is protected.

The education industry is a big focus here at Vector Security. We believe every student and faculty member should feel safe while on campus. If you would like to learn more about the security solutions we provide and how we integrate them within a school system, feel free to contact us today.