Entrance safe and inviting

Recommendation 9
An exit which can be monitored effectively, while the entrance has a welcoming appeal to the outside community

Chapter (theme)
Schoolyard / around school (demarcation)

Because of
ToM, shifting, limitations in social interaction and communication

In order to
find a balance, with various means among which architectural, between safety and openness to the surrounding community.

The design of a school entrance is subject to contradictory requirements; we are dealing with a reoccurring sort of dilemma. On the one hand safety has to be guaranteed, while on the other there needs to be a more or less open connection to the surrounding community.

The need for security has two aspects. One is preventing people from entering the school who might threaten the safety of the students. This aspect we leave aside because any school, whether there are autistic students or not, should take the proper precautions.
Preventing autistic students to leave the school without permission (‘to elope’ as it is sometimes called in the U.S.) is the other aspect. As mentioned in the theme demarcations, this generally happens at an alarming rate. The possible consequences are very dramatically illustrated by the elopement of the 14-year old Avonte Oquendo from his school in New York City in 2013 and his subsequent death by drowning. There it appeared the presence of a doorwoman was insufficient. Meanwhile all New York schools are obliged by Avonte’s Law to have audible door alarms. Similar tragedy’s inspired initiatives for elopement protocols and the improvement and implementation of various electronic tools.

The design requirements to prevent elopement concern gatehouses with effective oversight, safe door systems and sightlines which are generally mainly aimed at safety.

Where the openness towards the community is concerned Khare & Mullick emphasize among other things joint activities of schools and the surrounding community. Design-wise, therefore, the entrance should have a welcoming appeal which doesn’t have to clash with inside-out safety.


Avonte Oquendo

See the blog attached to this site.
elopement protocols
E.g. this one.
electronic tools
E.g. copy-paste https://ifineedhelp.org/
among other things
Another element is inclusion of autistic students in mainstream schools which doesn’t simplify safety measures since these are easier to maintain in special education schools.