As we come together as a nation and respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic, STOPit is working closely with our K-12 and higher education partners to help them leverage their STOPit tools to best serve students and staff.
And even though classrooms are empty as students are learning from home during the national effort to flatten the curve, school administrators are as busy as ever, continuing with all the preparation for the 2020-2021 school year. This includes reviewing options to update their school’s comprehensive safety plan, because when it comes to budgeting for school safety, we know the “ABCs” are not as easy as 123.
The School Superintendents Association advises school districts to address three key areas to ensure their students and staff are properly protected – what it terms the ABCs of School Safety. It’s a simple and general list, but one that covers a broad swath of ground that would be daunting for anyone making financial decisions for their district. The ABCs are:
- Awareness: Making sure everyone, including school staff and community members, are on the same page when it comes to safety. This requires the development and frequent refresh of safety plans, and engaging all stakeholders to make certain they are well acquainted with them in case of an emergency.
- Balance: Avoiding a reliance on any one strategy or a narrow set of strategies. For example, schools should take care not to direct so much of their investment toward security infrastructure that they have no funding left for human connection initiatives like mental health services.
- Control: Limiting access to the classroom only to those who belong there. Schools can control entry to school grounds with equipment purchases, security guard hires, tight visitor policies and other measures.
As school boards across the country gear up to craft spending plans for the 2020-21 fiscal year, they face a series of decisions and trade-offs as they try to cover those ABCs. They must stretch a limited pool of funding to cover every reasonable safety scenario that can be imagined, along with those that carry astronomically low odds. In the age of rising mental health and school safety problems, the cost of not having a plan and the resources in place to cover it all is too high not to pay.
What’s In Your Plan?
District leaders need to evaluate their schools’ unique hardware and building security needs, which carry different dimensions in rural, suburban and inner-city settings. At a time when climate change is causing more intense storms, chronic flooding and temperature extremes, schools need to have the proper equipment, training and plans in place to handle natural emergencies.
Schools need to ensure that adequate mental health programs are in place to help children in times of need, potentially staving off tragedies before they happen. And last, but not least, they need to have resources in place to deal quickly and decisively with threats and toxic behaviors.
A Washington Post investigative team surveyed administrators from 34 schools that suffered shooting incidents, including Sandy Hook Elementary, to find out what they learned from the experiences. According to the article, “When asked what, if anything, could have prevented the shootings at their schools, nearly half replied that there was nothing they could have done. Several, however, emphasized the critical importance of their staffs developing deep, trusting relationships with students, who often hear about threats before teachers do.”
Many schools have had success opening the lines of communication between students and faculty with the aid of anonymous reporting systems. Affordable, full service mobile platforms like STOPit Solutions, encourage students who might fear reprisal or feel anxiety about getting involved to share information that ultimately makes their classmates safe. STOPit saw the highest volume of reports filed in its history in the days following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, as students came forward with information they felt just might thwart a tragedy in their own schools.
STOPit can be customized to meet every school district’s needs, with options available for 24/7 emergency monitoring to ensure that problems are routed immediately to those who can help, no matter when they occur. Contact STOPit today to learn more about the role anonymous reporting can play in your school’s safety plan while remaining within your budget.
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