Author: Dr. David Mussington, Executive Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recognizes November as Infrastructure Security Month, an annual effort to educate the American public about the vital role critical infrastructure plays in the nation’s wellbeing and the importance of strengthening critical infrastructure security and resilience. The country’s critical infrastructure provides essential services that underpin American society and includes the more than 130,900 elementary and secondary schools which make up our kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) educational system.
Today, critical infrastructure, including K-12 schools, faces an increasing range of evolving threats; to include, extreme weather events, acts of violence, and cyberattacks impacting both virtual and physical operations. The breadth, complexity, and prevalence of these threats underscore the need for schools to “build it in” when it comes to infrastructure security and resilience. From the physical design of schools and campuses to the development and ongoing maintenance of preparedness plans, security and resilience should be at the forefront of schools’ safety efforts.
Schools are especially encouraged to plan for a variety of risks and potential incidents which may threaten the safety and security of campuses. The development and implementation of physical security measures can mitigate external threats and reduce the amount of harm inflicted if incidents occur. Additionally, conducting site assessments can help schools identify existing vulnerabilities and integrate future security practices. Schools can also ‘build it in’ by working with district and community partners, including local law enforcement, CISA’s protective security advisors, and other critical infrastructure stakeholders, to share information about best practices, potential threats, and mitigation strategies.
SchoolSafety.gov offers additional information and resources for school communities to develop and maintain safe, secure, and resilient campuses. Resources include the K-12 School Security Guide (2nd Edition) and School Security Survey, which provide preventive and protective measures to address the threat of gun violence in schools, as well as the Security of Soft Targets and Crowded Places Resource Guide, designed to support stakeholders in mitigating potential risks associated with the dynamic threat environment. CISA’s Active Shooter Preparedness web page also provides resources to help all members of the academic community prepare for and respond to an active shooter incident.
Keeping students, educators, and school personnel safe and secure is a mission CISA will continue to pursue with dedication, determination, and vigilance. This November, join us in taking action to protect the security of one of our nation’s most critical functions and help us build a safer and more resilient future for our schools.
Recommended topic tags: Infrastructure Security, Academic Engagement, Infrastructure Resilience