National Safe Schools Week October 21-27, 2018

Safe Schools Week: What Can You Do?

It is Safe Schools Week this week, October 21-27, 2018, sponsored by state governors, state school superintendents, and The National School Safety Center. It is a week to recognize the success of positive efforts made in school safety as well as encourage others to improve their safety programs. Children cannot learn in an unsafe environment; safety is of paramount importance to ensure the well-being and provide a quality education for every student.

What can you do to improve your school’s safety? We’re so glad you asked!

-Ask about or evaluate the Safety Team at the school. Who is on it? Are they practicing crisis communications? Are they updating their emergency plans? There are many resources to make sure those plans are up to date. We are big proponents of the School Safety Resource Center here in Colorado. There is a lot of great information on their site.

-What is the district doing to provide resources to improve school safety? Is there support from the entire district? If not, how can that change in a positive, proactive manner? Many districts have a safety director or student services director who helps with the safety plans. Contact them to learn more about what is being done in the district to improve the safety of all students.

-How are the existing relationships with community partners? When is the last time the school worked with its local fire department, police department, or sheriff’s office? These professionals are such a vital resource and they want to help. If the school hasn’t reached out to them yet, this is a great time to make the connection. We provide an interoperable communications program to help facilitate these relationships and to allow public safety to speak to schools on their existing radios with hardware, software, and training. Learn more here.

-When was the latest safety training the school and district conducted? If not recently, when can the next one be scheduled?

-Are all staff members empowered to call a lockdown? How would they do so safely? Do they need access to radios, a PA system, or phone?

-During an emergency, is the school getting quality information to the 9-1-1 dispatcher? If not, how can you improve internal information to help the professional first responders be as efficient and effective as possible?

-How’s the reunification plan? When we train schools, we frequently hear that the reunification plan could be exercised and improved. It’s daunting but well worth understanding the systems in place.

-Need funding to improve communications? There are grants available in Colorado, apply for the SAFER grant by December 3

We advocate for quality plans, practices, and communications during an emergency. Even if  10 minutes of this week (or month’s) staff meeting is spent on one emergency scenario and how it could have been improved, it can help empower school personnel and improve the next situation.

Other ways to improve yourself during a school emergency:

-Get educated! FEMA has great resources to learn how to improve a response and understand how public safety organize themselves in the Incident Command System

-Think about previous scenarios that have occurred at the school or throughout the district. What went well? What could have been better? What would you have done in those situations?

Any constructive attempts to improve school safety are well worth the time and potential investment. This week is a great week to see what you can do to improve any aspect of school safety in your area. Need more help? We’re here! Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more.

SchoolSAFE Best Practices and Community Partnerships

At SchoolSAFE, we get many questions about school safety, best practices, and how to make communities more savvy in how they prepare for emergencies. We recently received several great inquiries about school safety practices from SchoolSAFE users, including: how do school districts handle preventative maintenance for emergencies? And, are first responders and school districts required to participate in trainings together to become SchoolSAFE Certified Ready?

Every school district is unique in their planning and execution of safety practices. One of our best examples of preparation and proactivity is in Pueblo, Colorado. The school district started by discussing various all-hazards scenarios at each school and referred to the district’s crisis plans to effectively respond. By doing so, administrators, teachers, and local public safety agencies were able to discover, mold, and develop best practices for teamwork day-to-day and during emergencies. They later learned that their ultimate tool for effective teamwork is the two-way radio in the schools. It enables each school to connect directly with professional responders and district personnel, putting everyone on a reliable, common channel to expedite the response.

First responders came to the table and provided their input on how the school could improve their response. They focused on the initial trigger to the incident – (lock down, lock out, evacuate or shelter), how and when the schools call 9-1-1, and how to evaluate a situation and share information “in real time.” Through the SchoolSAFE Certified Ready Schools Program by Motorola Solutions, relationships between school personnel and first responders flourished. The program required teamwork and training for all entities involved, FCC licensed radios, the SchoolSAFE physical network that bridges the channels together, tactical interoperable communications exercises, and continuing education throughout the partnership.

We have seen that decision-makers in both the school district and public safety grasp the importance of working together to create the most effective and timely response.

Do your students and community a favor, and share this information with your school or district. We need to work together to help fund and implement the technologies and procedures that enable teamwork among school and district-based responders as well as professional public safety responders. We are here to help your community discuss, plan, and implement your next steps. We appreciate educators and first responders for all that they do and for reaching out to us on this very important subject. -SSC

Contact us to learn more about how you can bring SchoolSAFE to your district.