Small changes really can add up to greater school safety. As we begin the new year and embark on the second semester of our academic year, I find myself thinking about what it really takes to create safer schools for our students and staff. Over the past two decades, increasing research has taught us a great deal about best practices in preparedness, response and intervention.
Here are 5 things you can do now to improve your school safety:
- Take a critical look at your school’s emotional climate to determine whether you are truly providing a safe haven for children and teens. Consider implementing a school climate or safety survey for students, staff and parents, to pinpoint areas that need attention. An extra benefit of this survey is that the data it provides will be extremely valuable for any grant funding you seek.
- 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.
This year, I will continue to dedicate myself to working intensively with school districts so each of them can rest assured that they have done everything they can to make their schools a safer place. I limit the number of schools I work with so I can provide highly targeted services. I will have the capacity to add a few selected districts over the next few months.
If you have a school safety question or just want to know more about how I can help your district, simply contact me here.