Many schools are still operating remotely and need to have a plan for conducting threat assessments virtually when someone has concerns about a student’s behavior, words or threats.
- To begin, revisit your existing threat assessment team and members. These are the very same people you will want to have on your virtual threat assessment team. The work is nearly the same, with the exception that it must be done via a videoconferencing platform. If you don’t currently have a threat assessment team, click here for details on who needs to be a part of it.
- The next step is to pull your team together as soon as possible to review previously agreed-upon roles and practices, make sure someone on the team has access to assessment and tracking forms, and review any concerns that have come to your attention over the past several months.
- It’s critical that your teaching staff knows what to look for and how to report any concerns so they can be assessed and acted upon. Your threat assessment team can put together a plan for staff training or dissemination of guidelines to keep everyone in the loop.
Many of the stressors affecting students remain the same as those prior to the pandemic. But, virtual learning has brought unique issues to the forefront that should be explored with students:
- Social isolation
- Lesser or greater parental supervision
- Loss of regular contact with coaches, clergy, school staff and other trusted adults
- Increase in anxiety, depression, and hopelessness
- Concerns about societal and political unrest that has been in the news over the past year
- Increased exposure to family conflict or violence
- Increase in cyberbullying due to time spent on the Internet and social media
- Decreased engagement in school
- Experiences of loss
When concerns about a student are brought to the team’s attention, the team will need to:
- Meet to review the known facts
- Complete a preliminary assessment, noting gaps in information
- Assign responsibilities for gathering additional information
- Meet again promptly to review new information
- Determine level and type of risk for the student
- Create an intervention plan
- Implement the plan with the help of parents or others in the student’s life
- Monitor student’s progress
- Re-assess as needed
If you’re wondering what to consider as schools start to reopen, be sure to read this.
To learn more about the threat assessment process, click here to access Virginia’s model threat assessment program.