Two government commissions on school safety established in the wake of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, made primary recommendations that schools maintain a "single point of entry" for visitors as an added security measure.
The concept of a single point of entry is one of the school security measures receiving renewed interest and scrutiny in the wake of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, following reports that the lone gunman was able to enter the school building through an unlocked door.
In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, the Trump administration established the Federal Commission on School Safety, which issued a series of recommended best safety practices for schools to adopt to limit the risk of an active shooter.
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The commission's report specifically recommended that schools implement "access controls" that limit the number of available entry points to a school building, as such security measures would limit access to schools by unauthorized personnel.
"Entry control measures limit the number of access points, allow access only to those who should be on the campus, and provide an opportunity to conduct searches of suspicious items or persons," the commission's report read. "Having entry controls in place can deter individuals from initiating violent attacks, detect attacks earlier from a safe distance, and delay attackers from reaching vulnerable locations or densely populated areas."
The commission called on schools to "consider equipping exterior doors with an electronic access system that allows for scheduled lock and unlock times" and said that "during lock times the use of access cards or video intercom door release systems may be used for student, teacher, or visitor movement."
The federal commission's recommendations mirrored those of another commission set up by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, likewise created in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting.
That commission laid out multiple recommendations for strengthening school security that required varying levels of funding. But among the low-cost recommendations was that school campuses "have single ingress and egress points." Additionally, it said visitors should be directed to enter the school at specific points.
"Clear signs should direct visitors to appropriate entry points," the Florida commission recommended to schools. "All entry/exit doors should indicate a closed campus and direct visitors to report to the front office. Install a door alert or notification system to the main entry for visitor control. Non-essential visitors should be limited and when allowing visitors they should be required to show positive identification, state their purpose for entering the school, be issued a visitor badge and, when appropriate, have a staff escort during the entire time the person is inside the school."
A single entry for visitors has become a common practice in many schools, both public and private, across the country in recent years. Nevertheless, the protocols at Robb Elementary School have drawn renewed attention to the issue amid reports that the gunman there was able to enter the building unabated.
But the idea has been met with mockery by some critics, some of whom interpreted the recommendation as only having one door to the building.
In a pair of tweets Wednesday, MSNBC commentator Chris Hayes sarcastically criticized the idea, saying, "One door in and out of crowded schools. What could go wrong!?!"
One door in and out of crowded schools. What could go wrong!?!— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) May 25, 2022
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During a Friday press conference, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told reporters that the gunman had indeed entered the building unopposed after a teacher had propped open a door inside the building, which allowed the gunman to enter.