Guidelines for School Safety

safe-school-image.jpgsafe-school-image.jpgThe days for public school security have arrived, and we, as educators, must take every precaution to protect the health, security, and wellbeing of every member who enters the school’s environment. Providing a safe and healthy environment for all students and employees begins with an increased awareness of school security, safety, and health issues. All individuals within the school should know that security and health are the school’s main priorities. Additionally, school leaders must communicate to every individual within the school that each school employee also bears a personal responsibility for maintaining a safe and healthy school environment.

School administrators are now presented with the formidable task of developing security and crisis preparedness guidelines at the building level. Along with the “traditional” security threats, recent shifts in school violence and new state and national regulations for crisis management planning are forcing administrators in even the safest of schools and communities to realize that a crisis “could happen here.” Additionally, teachers, students, parents, politicians, lawyers, and the media want to know what each school is doing or has done to prevent a crisis from happening and how the school will react in cases of student injury. The sad reality is that no principal can offer a 100 percent guarantee that a violent or serious accident will not occur in his or her school. But proactive administrators can take specific steps designed to reduce the risks of student injury by preparing to manage a crisis should one occur. Unfortunately, the safety of the students and staff members might very well depend upon the principal’s ability to design, plan, and implement a comprehensive school health, safety, and crisis management program.

This process will involve assessing the overall security of the school, developing policies that regulate healthy practices, bully proofing the campus and planning in advance for a crisis.


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Providing A Safe and Secure Environment

The days for public school security have arrived, and we, as educators, must take every precaution to protect the health, security, and wellbeing of every member who enters the school’s environment. Providing a safe and healthy environment for all students and employees begins with an increased awareness of school security, safety, and health issues. All individuals within the school should know that security and health are the school’s main priorities. Additionally, school leaders must communicate to every individual within the school that each school employee also bears a personal responsibility for maintaining a safe and healthy school environment.


Download Video: Posted by kingismike at TeacherTube.com.

The Four Tenets of School Safety

This interactive Web Blog will is divided into four major tenets for developing a safe school.  

Tenet One: “School Building Security,” provides administrators with an overall program for securing their school facilities. It provides policies and procedures necessary for securing both internal and external building security. The author has provided short rationales for each policy and the necessary forms for their implementation. The section concludes with a valuable assessment tool that administrators and security officials can use to evaluate the present level of building security and provides a reference point for future security planning. 

Tenet Two: “Developing a Crisis Management Plan” provides policies and procedures necessary to prevent and react to school threats, emergencies, and evacuations. The section is divided into two parts: those crisis situations that require evacuation and those crisis situations that require taking shelter.

Tenet Three: “School Health Services,” provides policies and procedures for dealing with a variety of health issues. Its major purpose is to help school staff members recognize and react appropriately to those medical situations that occur within the school setting. It includes policies and procedures for reacting to student injuries, handling contagious and chronic illnesses, recognizing social and psychological issues, and administering medications.

Tenet Four:Intemedation Prevention” By incorporating a school program that addresses the issue of bullying, students are learning that bullying occurs through various behaviors and to extreme degrees. Across our nation, students in public schools are learning how to identify and avoid bullies through classroom activities and seminars.  These students are signing pledges and working with professional educators to rid their school of bullying problems.  

Everyone has observed or experienced bullying at one time or another.  The goal in our schools today is to eliminate bullying completely and to create a safe environment for our students. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or emotional.  The offender may use intimidation tactics.  The severity of each offense ranges from subtle to very blatant.  For example, an intimidating glare may be used as a bullying tactic.

All four sections are important parts of a comprehensive crisis management plan in any school, but to be most effective, the policies and procedures must be tailored to meet the individual school’s needs.

School Building Security

The first major problem that most administrators will face in developing a school building security plan is the antiquated elementary and secondary schools in our country, which were not designed with building security in mind. Thus the primary focus of this section will be to give building administrators ideas for how to provide security for old buildings and for how to improve existing security with minimum cost to the district. This section will recommend security measures, provide sample policies and checklists, and present an evaluation guide for administrators to use in making recommendations for improving their existing security plans. Sample policies along with implementation checklists and forms have been provided for those building administrators who want to enhance the security of their existing facilities.


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Developing A Crisis Management Plan

safe-school-project.jpgCreating a crisis management plan can seem overwhelming because of the complexity of issues and problems that it entails. First of all, there are a variety of potential emergencies, with each one requiring the establishment of somewhat different procedures. Secondly, educators must work cooperatively with local police, fire departments, and other security agencies to coordinate the amount and extent of external intervention during an emergency or crisis. And thirdly, a comprehensive system of communication among all parties must be established. This can be daunting since this not only includes communicating with the various member of the school population but also communicating with the community as a whole. In every emergency situation, effective preparedness is the conse­quence of a collaborative relationship with the law enforcement agency that has jurisdictional responsibility for the first response to a call for help. 

While school crisis management plans are usually well coordinated internally, the author believes that many are shortsighted in their fail­ure to recognize that a school’s cri­sis may quickly require the services of one or more of the community’s emergency agencies. In such a crisis, all parties must respond in an expeditious and coordinated manner. If an effective crisis management plan has been established and communicated to all potentially involved parties, the school’s first call for help should result in an organized, collaborative response. One of the primary focuses of any crisis management plan should involve the delineation of responsibilities in order to mini­mize the chaotic aftermath of a sud­den disastrous event. 

Schools are particularly vulnerable to the mismanagement of crises for several reasons. First, few school administrators have the security training necessary to implement an effective plan. Second, they have relatively little experience in this area, especially when compared to the incidents that are contingent to most police agencies. Third, the political implications of crisis planning may lead to an inference that the school system is already in turmoil. The development of a crisis plan can be viewed as a signal of problems on the horizon. Finally, the dread of anticipating such an event makes it psychologi­cally easy to avoid. 

These concerns notwithstanding, administrators have a serious obli­gation to develop a clear plan of cri­sis management, perhaps more so than other public agencies because of their responsibilities to children. In addition, the authors believe that crisis planning is a natural opportunity for law enforcement personnel to be of invaluable assistance to schools. 


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