The new school term is in full swing, and students may find new safety regulations in force, which will keep their schools a safe haven and concerns for safety will make for a rewarding and successful year. Families will need to discuss any anxiety issues with their children and make a plan to work with teachers and the school district to make that process an easy transition.
Recently, a teacher from Newtown, Connecticut, discussed the Sandy Hook disturbance with the community at Seneca Valley High School in western Pennsylvania. The teacher was a survivor of the deadly scene at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, and she described the events of the day and the preparations that were taken to keep her students on a safe situation. This is just one way to provide information to parents, schools and community to understand the importance of working and planning together to ensure the safety of the students.
The best direction is to have a chain of command to make that process flow smoothly and to take precautions at every level. Teachers should have scheduled monthly meetings and the principal guides the teachers in all aspects of the safety code and rules. It is prudent to explain the danger signs and how to protect and react in a calm and orderly manner, as to keep the students from harm without sending the students in a frenzied manner.
Many schools have a buzzer and video set-up that will detect anybody to the main office to check in with the principal. Visitors and parents are given a temporary label that is worn at all times during the visitation. All doors should be locked after the first school bell, and door alarms are connected to the main office for all emergency situations. Surveillance cameras in all the surrounding areas may detect any movement that is deemed unsafe.
As an extra- added protection, a school in Florida has an armed school resource person who will be on duty for the entire school day, and Newton has been urged by a safety panel to add classroom locks for more security. The bottom line is what direction should the school district take to make school a safe place to be and what avenues should be in place to make that a successful conclusion. This is when administrators find answers and then disseminate that information to teachers, parents and the community.
There are many agencies and organizations that are involved in keeping schools safe and provide information for families and schools to garner strategies for a safe environment. That process starts at the home and continues to the schools and community in a cooperative effort to understand what it takes to keep all students safe. There are ways to share this information and make the students feel more secure:
- Have high school students prepare a play and act out safety issues for the elementary students
- Ask police and emergency officials to talk with the students
- The PTA may contact safety specialists to talk at meetings
- Practice safety drills throughout the year
- Establish a safety council at each school with students, parents and community