Written by Jack Decker, Christie Gould, and Mary Kay Tajnai
There has never been a time in which protection from violence, substance abuse, weapons, and bullying has been of greater importance. Prioritizing the need to protect students and investing significant resources is key to accomplishing this goal. In this day and age it is wise to minimize potential safety threats by focusing on three key areas; building safety, school day safety, and student safety
Best Practices for Building Safety
Building safety is enhanced by taking a flexible, multi-layered approach and utilizing real-world solutions. Grants can prove helpful to schools as they prepare to finance these efforts. Best practices when implementing building safety involves utilizing the following tools:
- Video surveillance cameras around perimeter and interior of the building
- 6 Foot fences and gates to prevent unwanted pedestrian and vehicular traffic during the school day
- Anti-crash post bollards designed to stop vehicles
- Shatter-resistant glass at classrooms and main entrances
- Two-way radios
- Locked swipe card access
- A full-time armed security director
- Security team positioned at key locations at drop off and pick up times
- Close communication with nearby businesses for larger events and have relationships in times of lockdown or emergency
School Day Safety Implementation
Securing the physical building is important, perhaps of equal importance is implementing staff procedures. There are many ways to encompass a safety mindset among staff in their daily routines.
- Folders should be created for substitute teachers so that emergency information is readily available such as floorplans, emergency contact information, student allergies, etc.
- Supervising staff must carry walkie-talkies when outside with a direction tag attached on how to call for additional staff in a medical emergency or a security emergency.
- All offices/emergency response teams should be in proximity of walkie talkies.
- All staff must be CPR trained from the American Heart Association (CPR, AED Online)
- Emergency Response Team should be in place with additional training in First Aid from The American Heart Association First Aid, CPR, AED Online
- All staff should have ALICE Training for crisis situations
A Comprehensive Approach to Making a Student Feel Safe
Schools should strive to establish a culture that fosters the feeling of safety within the whole student. While doing this it is important not to cause concern or fear.
- Professional Training for Staff: Provide staff with training modules and become a Trauma-Sensitive School. Staff will learn how to deal with students who have or are experiencing trauma at home and how to create a school environment that is a safe place.
- Practical Application for Students: Age-appropriate discussions and activities in classrooms about:
- Fire safety awareness and training through classroom units, drills, and fire department visits.
- Tornado safety awareness through participation in tornado safety month with drills, classroom articles, and discussions. Inviting local weathermen for presentations to the students.
- ALICE safety drills which are age-appropriate discussions that encompass steps to take in a crisis drill.
- DARE training with local law enforcement on being kind, making wise choices, and staying drug and tobacco-free.
- Providing Spiritual Application for Students:
- Praying with and for students.
- Providing regular chapels at age-appropriate levels with a variety of topics.
- Coming alongside parents to shepherd the heart of a child
- Trusting in God
- Partnering with Parents on the Vision: Utilizing effective communication with parents either through e-mail or video correspondence. Click HERE for an example of a message on safety from the Christian Life Head of School and HERE for a video security promo video created to educate parents.
Parents are trusting schools to protect their children physically and emotionally. It is the responsibility of schools to be vigilant in these efforts by providing a comprehensive approach to Safety. It is imperative to strive to provide excellence in both school safety and academics. For other important factors in providing a quality school DOWNLOAD the Top 20 Characteristics of Best Private Schools.