Main Office and Entry Security 101

Main Office and Entry Security 101

There are FIFTEEN CRITICAL SECURITY CONSIDERATIONS for main office/entry areas, as follows:

1. The Main office and reception area should be located at the main entry to the school.

2. The receptionist should have as wide a view out the front of the school as possible, to see anyone approaching, as well as to keep an eye on the parking lot, playground, or other hot spots.

3. Interior windows should provide the receptionist with as broad a view as possible inside the main lobby and into adjacent hallways.


4. Only supervised exterior doors should be accessible to visitors. Normally visitors should all be funneled to the main entry.

5. The receptionist should have the option of locking the front doors instantaneously, with the push of a button. The front doors can be kept locked whenever school staff feel the need. The alternative is to expect the receptionist to spot a threatening individual approaching, leap up, race around the counter, stumble out of the office and zip through the hall, dodging students and fumbling keys all the while, in order to lock the doors before the gunman can enter. This is not a good plan!

6. Visitors who find the doors locked can buzz the receptionist via the intercom.

7. If the receptionist lacks a direct view of the visitor, a camera should be used to compensate.

8. If the front door is open, the visitor should be easy for the receptionist to see.

9. A second set of lockable doors can restrict the visitor from going further, until they check in with the receptionist.

10. If a second set of doors is not feasible, a staff member should greet all visitors, directing them to the office for checking in.

11. If the visitor poses an immediate threat, the assigned staff member should be equipped, well trained and capable of confronting a threatening intruder. The staff member should be carrying a radio, panic button or other communication device, to immediately alert the school and initiate a lockdown. (Do NOT put a student in this position!)

12. If the school wants to be capable of withstanding something along the lines of the Sandy Hook massacre, at least one level of protection should be bullet resistant – either by using wood, brick or other substantial material, or by installing bullet resistant glass (a pricey proposition that can run $100/ square foot.)

13. If the main office is located anywhere other than at the front door, cameras should provide high quality views of pretty much everything, but at least they should cover the area outside the main entry, all entry doors, the main hallway and any hot spots. The monitors have to be easily viewed in the office without the receptionist having to take any special measures to do so. (I visited one school in which the monitor was kept locked in a closet in the teacher’s lounge, at foot level. This was a bad idea!) Simply including the cameras on your multi-purpose computer is NOT the best plan. Dedicate a separate monitor to the cameras, and mount it where it can be easily seen from the receptionist’s normal working position.

14. An intercom with integrated camera can also be useful, making it more convenient to lock the front door and have visitors check in via intercom. The receptionist can then assess the visitor and decide whether or not to buzz them through. (


15. If you want to take all this up a notch, consider extending the office out as shown in this illustration. A bulbous design expands the view from the office to include the full front face of the school. If the office is constructed flush to the front, staff can only see the area away from the face of the school, not along its front edge.


Tod Schneider
Written by Tod Schneider

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