The Texas Education Agency (TEA) recently proposed new school safety standards, including the reinforcement of easily accessible windows, for all K-12 public schools in the state. The proposal is the latest effort to enhance school safety in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting that killed 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School.
Under the new rules, Texas schools would need to reinforce ground-level windows or windows that are adjacent to or near a door and are large enough to allow someone to enter if broken. Easily accessible round-level windows near exterior doors need to be constructed or modified so that the glass cannot be easily broken, and they must have functional locking mechanisms that can be locked from the inside.
The suggested rules also call for a panic alarm system button that can be physically pressed or triggered via a phone. This would alert all school and staff administrators and law enforcement agencies. If campuses have electronic locking systems on their doors, the alarm will also lock all the doors.
The proposed rules include operating requirements, such as inspecting exterior doors. The sweeps must be conducted weekly to certify that all doors are closed, locked and latched. Issues must be reported to the school principal and the school safety and security committee. Maintenance checks must also be conducted twice annually to ensure that the facility’s components function properly.
In addition to the TEA’s proposals, the glass, glazing and fenestration industries have strived to help school districts choose from a range of high-performance products that will add additional protection to schools. ASTM International’s Standard Test Method for Forced-Entry-Resistance of Fenestration Systems After Simulated Active Shooter Attack (ASTM F3561-22) is a test method that sets the procedures to test forced-entry-resistant building components, construction components and specialty security equipment.
The test method is intended for manufacturers to test and rate their windows, glazings, and doors, among other products, to meet the needs for forced-entry protection after sustaining an active shooter assault.
The TAE’s proposed requirements come after the Texas Governor’s office in October announced $400 million for school districts to upgrade doors, windows, fences and other safety equipment. The organization states that the money will be distributed based on enrollment,
TEA says it will establish a grant to support its proposed rules. The 2023-2025 School Safety Standards Formula Grant will allow for pre-award for items purchased on or after June 1, 2022. The grant program will calculate its allocations based on a per-pupil amount.