Safety and Security: A guide to creating safe and secure school environments

We believe a school should be an inviting, engaging, community space where the security measures are well thought out, but less visually obvious.

Joe Britton III, Associate  | March 2023

We all want to create safe and secure environments where students and faculty can thrive and grow. The following are measures that can be implemented to both promote safety and reduce opportunities for crime on a school campus. A lot of these measures can be implemented into existing facilities at low or reasonable cost. When done correctly, a school can function safely and securely while at the same time allowing the students and staff to feel welcome and comfortable. To allow students to feel secure and welcome in these spaces, programming and design should take the following into consideration:

Shelter In Place Zones

Shelter in place is initiated in situations that may require staff and students to shelter in classrooms or work areas4. Shelter in place zones should be located in areas outside lines of site from corridors. The strategic use of interior finishes and spatial design can create concealed out of site zones within student occupied areas so occupants can shelter in place without being seen.

Secure Entry Sequences

A school’s safety and security can be greatly increased by creating a proper spatial sequence to the main entrance or entrances that control the flow, path, and engagement with all visitors.

Visual Control / Access Management

Controlling access to school property, buildings, and classrooms is a basic security function for any school⁴. Using signs, well-marked entrances and exits, and utilizing landscaping are ways to improve or limit access to certain areas². Locating administration areas directly adjacent to entrances provides a passive solution to visual security throughout the building and the exterior.

Classroom Door Lock Sets

School safety experts and various government agencies agree that it is essential that all classroom doors can be locked from the inside as a basic protection for occupants in the event of an emergency. Appropriate classroom door lock sets should be considered and implemented instead of secondary locking devices or door barricade devices³.


Lighting by itself does not prevent crime but can be used strategically alongside natural surveillance to control and reduce fear and reduce or eliminate the opportunity for criminal activity¹.

Glazing Film

Applying glazing film to on grade windows (accessible from the exterior) to enhance student safety and security.

About Joe Britton III

Joe Britton III, RA, Associate

207.558.7200 Extension 303 |
Joe is a K-12 Education Project Manager. He has a unique depth of experience and skills that consistently lead to successful project delivery. Listening to a client’s needs and then transforming their vision into a reality. Joe has recently completed Morse High School and Mid-Coast School of Technology.



1. “Chandler Police Department.” CPTED Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design , 2017.

2. “Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) School Assessment.” National Center for Injury and Control: Division of Violence Prevention, May 2017.

3. Williams, Mark. “5 Reasons Schools Should Avoid Classroom Barricade Devices.”, September 9, 2019.

4. “Pass School Security Guidelines.” PASSK12, 2020.