Govt issues guidelines on how schools can steel themselves for attacks
A circular on CBSE’s website, drawn up by the union home ministry, provides a standard operating procedure that city schools would do well to follow to avert or manage a crisis
Stirred by the carnage of schoolchildren in Peshawar, even as schools in Mumbai work on hammering out airtight security measures, a circular uploaded on the CBSE website lays down the standard operating procedure (SOP) to be followed in times of crisis.
Pakistani labourers build the wall of an army-run school which was attacked by Taliban terrorists in Peshawar. Pic/AFP
Drafted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the circular not only states the procedure schools should follow in case of terror attacks or other forms of violence inside or outside the school, but also lists measures that could be implemented to enhance the security system.
A few crises mentioned include kidnapping, sudden firing on roads outside schools, armed intrusion into the institute with hostage-taking, and suspected explosive object found in school’s vicinity or on its premises.
“Recent terror attacks have shown that with an aim to gain widespread media and public attention, places with large footfalls like hotels, malls and schools are being targeted. This necessitates the need for Standard Operating Procedure to counter such attacks,” reads the circular.
For starters, the circular asks the local police to identify prominent institutes in their jurisdiction the police have already started work on reconnoitering schools this past week. In any case, the SOP is germane for all schools.
It suggests that every institute display a detailed list of important phone numbers - of police control room, local police station, hospitals etc - at prominent spots on its premises.
It also states different evacuation methods, action that can be taken under various circumstances, and clear-cut regulations to boost security. Of late, schools have been busy reassuring parents worried for their children’s safety following the Peshawar attack.
But school authorities are taking care to be sensible while heeding parents’ demand for failsafe measures. Rohan Bhatt, chairman of Children’s Academy group of schools, said, “It is a conscious decision made by our management that we will not place armed security inside school premises.
However we are looking at all possible means to ensure that our kids are safe.” He added that the respective local police have been asked to hold workshops to prepare students for a crisis and raise their awareness of such incidents. Other schools have planned similar workshops, not only for students but also for their staff.
Many institutes have already implemented stricter rules – mandating ID proof for those seeking to enter the premises, conducting regular training workshops for security personnel, etc. “We have recently started frisking bags as well as checking lunch boxes that parents drop during lunch hour.
Since renovation is going on inside our school, construction workers have also been given strict instructions,” said Seema Maindiratta, principal of DAV School in Kharghar. She added that parents have been informed about the precautionary measures.
Recommended safety measures
>> Each school should have a boundary wall; more than two entry and exit points manned by guards round the clock
>> A telephone connection at the main gate so guards can contact police during an emergency
>> A centralised alarm system through which the entire school can be addressed
>> Closing school gates immediately after arrival or departure of children
>> Briefing all staff members about possible threats
>> Conducting mock drills and security checks routinely
>> Preparing a list of specific duties for staffers by their names who will be responsible for guiding children in times of crisis
>> Furnishing a copy of the latest plan of the school to the local police station