There have been 25 school shooting incidents in the United States so far in 2022. It’s a grim statistic that has everyone more concerned than ever about school safety. Many of those incidents don’t make the headlines unless they rise to the tragic level and loss of life such as what took place at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. But every school shooting is a tragedy. The nation’s children and youth deserve to feel safe at their schools. Every school building can achieve a higher level of safety and security. This article focuses on adding a layer of school protection with entryway bullet-resistant windows.
Ways to Improve School Entrance Security
Campus Safety Magazine ran an article back in 2017 about ways to improve school entrance security. It included the following recommendations:
- Perimeter Fences: While perimeter fencing won’t stop the most determined of assailants, they do help when set up correctly. The idea is that the fencing will deter many trespassers while also funneling pedestrian traffic to points of entry into the school where additional security measures can be put in place.
- Single Point of Entry: It’s much easier to provide a higher level of protection when there is a single main point of entry to a school building. The design of a school entrance can incorporate a variety of improvements to security. This provides a way to channel security resources in a more cost-effective manner. Effectively protecting the school entrance can go a long way toward making a safer school environment.
- Staff Monitoring: Two of the most critical times when well-trained staff need to be monitoring what’s going on are during arrival and dismissal times. Staff training for these high-traffic periods should include what to look for, reverse evacuation procedures, and managing vehicle access. Monitoring staff should be equipped with radio communications and be able to quickly call 911 in the event of an emergency.
- Visitor Access: Adequate screening of visitors is a must. Visitor management systems may be paper-based or computerized. Either way, having a solid system is critical.
- Reinforced Entry Door System: A double-door vestibule entrance design offers the most effective security and screening opportunity. Having quick electronic lockdown capability is essential to the protection of children and staff.
- Windows: Entry windows and glass can serve dual functions of providing visibility and protection if they are made to resist forced entry and/or are bulletproof.
- Exterior Door Monitoring: Every door that leads outside is also a potential point of entry. All exterior doors should be monitored electronically to ensure they are closed and locked.
- Duress Alarms: Otherwise known as panic buttons, having these installed in main administrative areas is key. They allow staff to discreetly summon emergency assistance by simply pressing a button.
For more excellent ideas from Campus Safety regarding main entrance security, see 11 Components of a Secure School Front Entrance and Guarding the Front Door: School Visitor Management Best Practices. Pivoting toward the safety and security of school entryways, the type of glass levels listed below explore the details for school doors and windows.
Bulletproof Glass for School Entrance Doors and Windows
Keep in mind that although everyone uses the words “bulletproof” to describe glass that can stop a bullet, the more technically correct term is “bullet-resistant” glass because there’s always a more powerful gun with a bigger bullet that can get through any glass. In fact, bulletproof glass is always manufactured to be effective against specific calibers of firearms and projectiles, as described and tested by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) 752: Standard for Bullet-Resistant Equipment. Below are the eight levels of protection:
- Level 1: Protects against a minimum of three shots from a 9mm at a minimum velocity of 1,175 feet per second. This is a common choice for protection against small-caliber handguns.
- Level 2: Can withstand at least three shots of .357 magnum soft points at a velocity of 1,250 feet per second.
- Level 3: Effectively protects against a minimum of three shots of .44 magnum rounds at a velocity of 1,350 feet per second.
- Level 4: Can withstand at least one shot from a .30 caliber rifle with a minimum velocity of 2,540 feet per second. Levels 1–3 are linear, but levels 4 and above describe different types of protection, not necessarily whether one is better or worse than one another.
- Level 5: Protects against at least one full metal jacket round from a 7.62mm rifle with a velocity of at least 2,750 feet per second.
- Level 6: Resists at least five 9mm rounds at an elevated minimum velocity of 1,400 feet per second.
- Level 7: Can withstand multiple full metal jacket rounds with 5.56 rifle at a minimum velocity of 3,080 feet per second.
- Level 8: Resists at least five shots from a 7.62mm rifle.
The higher the level, the more powerful the protection against bigger guns and bullets. But it’s important to keep in mind that the higher the level of protection, the thicker and heavier the bullet-resistant glass. This in turn affects design considerations since the thickest glass is so heavy that reinforcement is often needed for a successful installation. This is why it’s critical to think through the most likely kind of gun used in school shootings, not necessarily the worst-case scenario.
Guns Used in School Shootings
Outrage in the wake of some of the worst school shootings often ends up focusing attention on the specific type of gun used, such as AR-15 styles of semi-automatic rifles (Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde). But an analysis of all school shootings reveals a different story entirely. One analysis of school shootings since Columbine through 2018 revealed most school shootings involve the use of handguns, not rifles. In fact, the single deadliest school shooting ever was the one at Virginia Tech with 32 fatalities, all by the shooter using handguns. Of all the deaths in school shootings during the timeframe studied, 139 were caused by handguns and only 51 by assault rifles. Note how this is described below:
“Over 2/3s of all fatal school shootings since Columbine [through 2018] were from handguns. In fact, handguns outnumbered “assault rifles” almost 10 to 1 in school shooting events. This disparity narrowed with fatalities, but handguns were still responsible for almost 3 times what rifles were. If all school shootings were examined, not just fatal ones, the results would be even more skewed towards handguns.”
Not every school has the resources to plan for the worst-case scenario of an assault rifle attack, but many schools could protect against handguns. Level 3 protection is an effective barrier against most handguns, and handguns are the most likely weapon to be used in an active shooter incident at a school.
Creative Industries: Bullet-Resistant Glass for Schools
With the threat of gun violence at schools being an ongoing concern, the addition of school entrance bulletproof windows and doors is one piece of the school safety puzzle that Creative Industries can address. We have decades of experience manufacturing a wide range of bullet-resistant glass and related products that keep people safer. This additional layer of protection focused on the school entrance is a solution that can come at a price nearly any school district budget can accommodate. The cost of not making education safe for students, teachers, and staff is simply too high. Learn more about school safety with bullet-resistant products on the following Creative Industries website pages:
- Bulletproof Glass for Schools
- School Security Windows: Innovative Solutions for Greater Safety
- Bullet Resistant Windows for School
- Bulletproof Furniture for Schools
- How the Nation could be Bulletproofing Schools in 2020
- Are Student Desks at School Bulletproof?
- Bullet Resistant Tables for Schools: Classrooms, Cafeteria, Boardrooms
- Parents and Bulletproof Backpacks in Schools
- Are Bulletproof Doors the Future of School Security?
We welcome any school or school district staff to contact us to find out more about how Creative Industries can improve school safety and security with protective solutions against gun violence. Feel free to get in touch with us through the Contact Us page of our website or by calling us directly at 800-776-2068. We’re ready to help!