In a push to help students and faculty feel safer in their classrooms, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is looking to help K-12 schools make data-driven decisions on how to use current and evolving security procedures and technologies to improve school security – primarily against active assailants.

To that end, CISA collaborated with MITRE and George Mason University to release a report on Dec. 11 based on a recent School Security Simulation Experiment (SIMEX). The SIMEX was focused on developing data-driven recommendations for school administrators to enhance the security of their facilities and operations.

“SIMEX represents the continuation of our work to protect schools with evidence-based strategies, resources, and best practices,” said CISA Acting Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security Scott Breor.

High-level takeaways from this SIMEX included:

  • “The presence of a School Resource Officer (SRO) increased the number of students reported safe within a classroom or outside the school and decreased the number of casualties during an active shooter incident in school.”
  • “Classroom doors that lock automatically when closed increased the number of classrooms that successfully completed lockdown procedures and increased the number of students reported safe during an active shooter incident in school.”
  • “Allowing teachers to give lockdown notifications over a public address, or PA, system (decentralized lockdown notification processes), as opposed to requiring teachers to formally route that lockdown notification through the front administrative office (centralized lockdown notification processes), did not have a significant impact on the outcome of an active shooter event in this experiment.”

CISA explained that a SIMEX uses “advanced simulations to test various technical and operational capabilities based on realistic scenarios within a virtual reality environment.” During the experiment, a representative school environment was simulated to examine the effect that different variables had on lockdown processes and procedures for an active assailant incident.

The full results of this SIMEX have been documented in a formal After-Action Report.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs