With the recent events in Florida the topic of school safety is once again a topic on the minds of most people. I’ve spoken to many of you about this issue and how you are working with your students, staff, parents and community to reinforce that the safety of students and staff is ALWAYS your number one priority.
An article entitled Responding to School Violence: Tips for Administrators appeared on the National Association of School Psychologists website. The article identified a number of ways that you can reinforce to your constituents that schools are safe.
- Write a letter to parents explaining the school safety policies and crisis prevention efforts and cite statistics that less than one percent of violent deaths are “school associated.”
- Be a visible, welcoming presence at school, greeting students and parents and visiting classrooms.
- Issue a press release about the school district efforts to maintain safe and caring schools through clear behavioral expectations, positive behavior interventions and supports, and crisis planning and preparedness.
- Conduct a formal review of all school safety policies and procedures to ensure that emerging school safety issues are adequately covered in current school crisis plans and emergency response procedures. (Such reviews should be conducted at least annually.)
- Review communication systems within the school district and with community responders. This should also address how and where parents will be informed in the event of an emergency.
- Connect with community partners (emergency responders, area hospitals, victim’s assistance, etc.) to review emergency response plans and to discuss any short-term needs that may be obvious in response to the current crisis.
- Provide crisis training and professional development for staff based upon needs assessment.
- Highlight violence prevention programs and curriculum currently being taught in school. Emphasize the efforts of the school to teach students alternatives to violence including peaceful conflict resolution and positive interpersonal relationship skills. Cite specific examples such as Second Step Violence Prevention, bully proofing, or other positive interventions and behavioral supports.
I know that these are challenging times. I have no doubt that regardless of your position in your district, you work in a collaborative fashion with students, staff, parents and community to provide a safe nurturing environment for your students. I greatly appreciate what you do on a daily basis for your students and staff!
As always please feel free to contact me if I can be of service to you!