Tips for Choosing Safe Schools
Choosing safe schools for your children is a matter of asking the right questions to find out whether a school has established safety and crisis response plans along with procedures to ensure that students and staff are ready for any scenario.
By investigating the safety procedures and policies of schools, you can evaluate different school environments and make a more informed decision about the school your child will attend. Asking the following questions may help you better understand where a particular school stands in terms of preparedness.
Questions for School Administrators
- “What are your building entry options/procedures? Are the doors always locked?" Buildings should have as few accessible ingress doors as possible to control entry into the building and restrict unauthorized personnel and intruders.
- "What does your staff use to communicate?" Functional two-way radios or intercom systems allow personnel to quickly alert others to issues in the school facility or on the grounds.
- "How are school grounds monitored during recess and outdoor activities?" Well-maintained landscaping should provide natural visibility from facility windows and grounds. Appropriate supervisor to child ratios enable better
supervision of children on school grounds.
- "How often do lockdown drills take place?" Children must learn how to remain self-possessed when in danger; failure to consistently practice could result in confusion and put students at risk in the event of an actual emergency.
- "Does the school conduct simulation training with the staff?" Effective training is vital to equip teachers to stop predators before they seize control. Security service providers and law enforcement officials offer workplace violence prevention and active shooter
training targeted specifically for school environments.
- "When do you meet with public safety partners?" Regular communication with local law enforcement officials and coordination with security service providers to review and update safety and emergency plans is important.
- "How do you monitor who picks a child up from school?" With unstructured pick-up procedures, a predator can all too easily blend in.
- "What kind of background checks do you do?" Make sure that the school has conducted thorough personnel screening and background checks on all employees, including custodial staff, contractors on site, and school vendors.
- "Are school psychologists and nurses available when students are present?" Vigilant, qualified professionals should be on hand to provide counseling and resources, interpret the warning signs of a disturbed student, and take immediate action in the event of serious concern or injury.
- "What are your policies addressing violence, weapons, drug use, bullying, and sexual misconduct? Can I get a copy of these policies?" Accountability is the key to guaranteeing your child's well-being.
Well-prepared schools have three things in common:
- Mandatory on-site training for staff and students.
- Current and consistent crisis plans.
- Routine drills and rehearsals.
Look for schools with these safety measures already in place, and when in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask difficult or uncomfortable questions for clarification. Sometimes the manner in which the question is answered or avoided is as telling as the answer. By working together, parents, school administrators, and public safety specialists can create a strong and secure environment where children can thrive.
Active Shooter Response
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