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Today, more than ever before, parents are taking an active interest in understanding the safety policies and protocols their children's schools have in place. And rightfully so.
With incidents ranging from unpredictable violence to natural disasters seemingly becoming commonplace in our society, parents are rightfully seeking assurance that their children are learning in an environment that prioritizes safety and security.
Just as much as educators, parents play a crucial role in what’s included in their kids’ school safety policies. By actively engaging with educators, parents can contribute their ideas and opinions to the district’s policies, helping shape the safety protocols that they deem necessary in their communities. Sometimes, however, that can be a daunting task.
Where do parents even begin when it comes to assessing the current safety protocols in place at their children’s schools? From asking about current emergency procedures to how the school is investing in the future of its plans, here are eight key questions that all parents should be asking their child’s school about its current safety protocols.
1. What Is Your Current School Safety Policy?
Simply asking what safety policies your child’s school already has implemented is a great place to start when it comes to getting a feel for both the school’s attitude on emergency preparedness and the current protocols they use. How are you keeping it up to date? Are you investing in the improvement or expansion of the program? Is there a dedicated team?
Your child’s school should not only keep its policies updated to ensure the newest safety procedures are being followed, but it should also have a dedicated team comprised of counselors, psychologists, members of law enforcement, and parents. These safety procedures should be in writing and easily accessible to children and families.
2. How will I be notified if there is an emergency?
Making sure that you understand how and where your child’s school will communicate emergency situations and instructions to you is critical to minimizing the trauma for both your child and yourself. Some schools will call every parent. Some have automatic notification systems. Knowing how your child’s school informs you of emergencies will be an essential aspect of receiving instruction during emergencies.
3. What drills do you currently practice?
Practice makes perfect and unfortunately,drills for events like fires, severe weather, or school intruders are no exception. Making sure that your child’s school practices the drills that you deem necessary is an important part of feeling like your child is safe at school and prepared in case of an emergency.
4. Is there a system in place for students to report concerning behavior?
Schools should encourage kids to speak up when they witness concerning behavior or hear about threats to school grounds. Making these means easily accessible is just as important. Asking school leaders about what type of systems they have in place for children to report behavior virtually or anonymously is essential to making sure that your child understands how to use this valuable prevention tool. Make sure that your child’s school fosters an environment where reporting concerns is not only easy, butencouraged.
5. Are there mental health services available to students?
Mental health is an often-forgotten part of school safety plans—but the mental health crisis among students has never been worse than it is today. Asking school officials about what types of support systems are in place for your child’s mental health will help them make the most out of school resources and find the right help if necessary. Making sure that your child will receive the necessary mental health support they need is one of the most important aspects of a school safety plan and will help your child if they have a mental health episode.
6. Do you have a check-in and check-out or screening process for visitors?
Between an increase in violent incidents in schools, and the world just getting over the COVID-19 pandemic, there are multiple safety reasons behind only allowing certain people onto school grounds. Recent events have shown us that simple sign-in and sign-out is not enough to keep your school secure. Make sure your child’s school is doing everything they can to keep the campus safe.
Asking school leaders what the biggest risks the school is currently facing shows you that they are taking school safety seriously, are up to date, and are in touch with current trends and environment on school grounds. Asking staff about the school’s top risks forces them to recognize the issues at hand and can help school officials identify areas of improvement.
8. Do you have a school resource officer? Are they armed?
Having a school resource officer, or SRO, is an increasingly popular trend. Make sure that you know how your child’s SRO program works. Do they integrate and build relationships with students? Are they armed? Will they get involved in school-related concerns as well as emergencies? How much power do they have? Ensuring that you know the capabilities and policies surrounding the SRO in your child’s school is a key part of making sure you feel confident in your child’s safety at school.
Parental engagement in school safety efforts is beneficial to the parent, the school, and the child. While educators and administrators work hard every day to create a safe learning environment, parents play an essential role in shaping school safety policies. By asking the right questions and engaging with the school on safety matters, parents contribute to the foundation of safety that ensures the protection of all students. Just as school officials are an indispensable part of school safety planning, the participation and involvement of children and parents is what will help enhance those safety measures.
Kokomo24/7® is a leader in compliance and risk management solutions for all things health and safety. Founded in 2018, Kokomo24/7® has a significant track record across Fortune 1000 companies as well as public-sector clients like the Los Angeles Unified School District and Chicago Public Schools. Ask us about the time we helped host the Oscars!