Critical Aspects of Back-to-School Safety

safer school

Summer has flown by, as usual, and school is starting in most parts of the country. Those of us in the West are already in session, and you lucky folks in the Midwest and East have until after Labor Day to savor the last days of summer.

In addition to lesson plans, creating a welcoming classroom, and getting to know our new students, many of us have school safety on our minds. We are charged with one of the most important tasks – keeping children safe while they are with us. This is bound to cause some anxiety as the school year gets underway.

School safety can be broken down into five separate areas, which helps us to put it in perspective.

Prevention – the capabilities necessary to avoid, deter, or stop an imminent crime or threatened or actual mass casualty incident. Prevention is the action schools take to prevent a threatened or actual incident from occurring.

Protection – the capabilities to secure schools against acts of violence and manmade or natural disasters. Protection focuses on ongoing actions that protect students, teachers, staff, visitors, networks, and property from a threat or hazard.

Mitigation – the capabilities necessary to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage by lessening the impact of an event or emergency; reducing the likelihood that threats and hazards will happen.

Response – the capabilities necessary to stabilize an emergency once it has already happened or is certain to happen in an unpreventable way; establish a safe and secure environment; save lives and property; and facilitate the transition to recovery.

Recovery – the capabilities necessary to assist schools affected by an event or emergency in restoring the learning environment and healing from the event. This includes a plan for business continuity.

As you begin the school year, consider doing the following over the next two months:

  • Implement a school climate or safety survey for students, staff and parents, to pinpoint areas that need attention. If you are looking for a survey to use, check out this school climate survey compendium.
  • Foster a sense of belonging in your school community. Celebrate differences and offer a diverse menu of activities, mentoring and connectedness programs, so everyone has a place to call home.
  • Train your staff to identify the signs of those who are struggling so they can support and refer those needing help.
  • Review your crisis response plan. Ideally, this should be done every year, and no less frequently than every 3 years. We learn more every day in this field – you’ll want to be sure your plan reflects current recommendations.
  • Add a new type of drill. If you haven’t done a reverse evacuation or a lockdown drill in awhile, schedule one today. Then, review the results with your staff so everyone can make adjustments if needed.

I’d love to know more about your specific safety challenges and needs. Let me know by typing your safety challenges into this form. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great school year!

Back to School Safety Made Simple

back to school safety, school safety drills, tabletop exercises

Back to school safety: It feels like there are a million things to attend to and safety drills are probably not at the top of your list. Should they be?

Well….the beginning of the year is a time when school staff members often talk with students and parents about expectations, rules and policies. Everyone is fresh and ready to learn. Perhaps this is a good time to talk about drills.

Back to school safety. What next?

A good place to start is by walking through a variety of emergencies during tabletop exercises with key staff and emergency responders. Perhaps you did this over the summer. Next, you will want to conduct full-school drills. The type of drills should be rotated and include fire, chemical spill, evacuation, reverse evacuation, lockdown and any other type of drill pertinent to your specific location (flood, tornado, etc.).

The more you practice, the calmer and less fearful everyone will be. We can’t always control what happens, but we can control how we respond. Practicing drills conditions us to behave in a specific way even when our physiology and cognitive capacity are compromised.

In an emergency, stress causes several things to happen to us physiologically. Our fine motor skills deteriorate, followed by our complex motor skills and cognitive processing ability. We lose some of our problem-solving skills, and if our heart rate gets high enough, we may begin to behave irrationally.

Practicing drills exactly as we want to behave in a true emergency will help tremendously. Remember Pavlov’s dogs? A conditioned response is what we strive for in a fire drill. The alarm sounds and we drop what we’re doing and evacuate. We want to do the same for other emergencies, while still allowing for some decision-making on the part of staff if a situation deviates from what is expected. Your back to school safety efforts will go a long way toward keeping everyone safer. 

Principals’ Top 7 Goals for the New School Year

Principals' top goals for the new school year

It’s nearly the end of July, with the start of another school year just a few weeks away. Along with the excitement of the new school year, administrators are very busy making preparations.

Here are principals’ top 7 goals for the new school year, as outlined in education journals:

  1. Motivating teachers
  2. Improving morale among staff
  3. Building a team atmosphere
  4. Creating excitement for learning
  5. Increasing parent involvement
  6. Creating a positive school climate
  7. Ensuring that the school is a safe place to learn

If you’re thinking about improving any aspect of your school’s safety, I would love to talk with you.

Here’s why

I’ve worked successfully with schools nationwide to help them to significantly improve their safety plans and I’ve provided students, staff and parents with highly effective safety awareness training. I’ve also established and trained violence threat assessment teams, with outstanding results.

I limit the number of schools I work with so I can provide individualized and highly targeted services to meet each district’s specific needs.

Because of this, there’s a limit to the number of schools I can work with. The reason I am writing to you, is that I have just 3 places 2 places available, starting in September. If you’ve been thinking about proactively improving safety in your school, I’m here to help you.

To find out more or secure 1 of the 2 remaining places, get in touch using the contact form here or call me at 505-313-1092. I’m happy to answer any questions you have. To avoid disappointment, get in touch as soon as possible.