Top 7 Safety Strategies for Schools Explained

School safety measures protect kids from violence, bullying, theft, robbery, exposure to weapons and other threats. They include specialized teams, threat assessment protocols and emergency communications procedures.

They also involve training staff and encouraging reporting. It is important to communicate clearly and often with parents, guardians and students to ensure everyone understands the school’s safety guidelines.

1. Invest in Security Guards

School security guards are a key element in any school’s safety plan. They can provide a visible deterrent and help to prevent crime from occurring on campus, such as fighting, theft, robbery, weapon use and sexual assault. They can also perform threat and risk assessments, create emergency protocols and train faculty members on those procedures.

Schools can hire private security guards or seek volunteers from the community who have law enforcement experience, and they can also equip staff with weapons. However, schools must balance the need for security with the need to maintain a safe environment for students and staff members. Too much security can be just as dangerous as too little.

Another way to protect a school is by limiting access points into the building. This can be done by having one designated entrance for student, staff and visitor entry, while keeping all other outside doors locked and inspected to ensure that they are not being propped open.

Schools should also monitor areas that are often overlooked, such as stairways and common areas. This can be done by having a security guard patrol these spaces and by using programmable lights that turn on at the same time each evening and in response to motion sensors.

2. Educate the Community

Educators can promote safety by encouraging students to interact with the community in positive ways. For example, involving youth services in school activities is a great way to promote safety while also helping young people develop social skills that are vital for life.

Additionally, schools should encourage students to report any threats or suspicious activity they see. This can be done by providing counseling services, using student hotlines and implementing “tell an adult” campaigns. It’s also a good idea to make sure that all staff members are aware of the warning signs of an individual that might be planning violence and encourage them to report these to administrators and law enforcement.

Another critical safety measure is to ensure that all students have safe routes to get to and from school. Many mishaps happen on the way to school due to poor road conditions, lack of proper footpaths and other factors. School administrators should conduct regular route safety audits to ensure that students are able to safely reach their classrooms every day. This can be done by promoting the initiative on the morning announcements, creating posters and tracking trends with case management software. This will help keep all students, teachers and parents informed of any changes that need to be made.

3. Conduct a Threat and Risk Assessment

Every school is different, and the best way to protect students depends on your campus’s specific facilities and circumstances. To get a clear picture of your school’s strengths and weaknesses, hire a professional to conduct a threat and risk assessment. This will help the security systems for schools and address any potential problems before they become serious.

This process involves looking at both the likelihood that a specific type of risk will occur and the impact that event would have, such as property damage, injuries or fatalities. It can also include a look at possible motives and root causes of violence in schools, which are often related to mental illness.

It’s important for school administrators to take a proactive approach to safety issues, rather than focusing solely on defensive tactics. According to a national superintendent leadership summit, approaches such as fostering safe and trusting school environments, crisis intervention programs and trauma-informed emergency planning are far more effective at reducing school shootings than improving access and lock upgrades. Additionally, establishing a reporting system that encourages students to talk openly with educators about concerns can make it easier for them to report any potential threats. This could include implementing student hot lines, suggestion boxes or other anonymous reporting systems.

4. Develop a Crisis Plan

Developing a crisis plan is one of the most important safety strategies schools can use. A school crisis plan should cover prevention, response and recovery. It should define roles for staff members in an emergency situation and provide information on how to communicate with students, parents and the media. It should also include a training program to help staff deal with the emotional impact of an incident.

This type of plan should be created by a team of people including administrators, teachers, front office staff and school counselors. It should include information on how to respond in an emergency, such as evacuating or locking down the building, triaging injuries and providing first aid. The plan should also outline how to work with local law enforcement and identify counseling needs. The plan should also cover how to handle rumors, such as those that may spread on social media.

It is important to practice the school’s plan regularly. This will allow everyone to be familiar with what to do in an emergency and can reduce the time it takes for a school to respond. This can save lives and minimize the damage done to a school. This is why many districts and schools have a school emergency operations plan.

5. Train Staff

Students and faculty should be trained on school safety procedures, including emergency response, evacuation, shelter-in-place and lockdown. This can help to reduce student anxiety and fear of being mistreated in a crisis situation. It also helps to build trust between school officials and parents.

Enclosed stairways and other common areas should have security personnel monitoring them to discourage unwanted behavior. This is especially effective in areas where students tend to congregate, like cafeterias and hallways. Invest in video surveillance to catch any suspicious activity that may have been missed by human eyes. Incorporate automatic locking systems into classroom doors, ensuring that they can be locked from the inside. This will help to establish protected zones that can be sheltered from trespassers during an emergency or disaster.

Consider adding metal detectors to points of entry to the school. This is a great way to screen all incoming students and staff for weapons and other prohibited items. However, it is important to note that this method does not provide a complete solution to the threat of an active shooter.

It is also a good idea to develop relationships with local businesses, so they are aware of the safety measures taken by your school. This will make it easier for them to reach out if they overhear anything concerning that could potentially affect your school.

6. Create a Safety Folder

The more information teachers and students have, the better they will be able to identify warning signs that may indicate an individual is a threat. This is why it is essential to train everyone from students to teachers in the basics of threat identification. Then, encourage them to report suspicious behavior to law enforcement or school administration immediately.

Administrators can then choose whether to make this information public or private, and can also instantly communicate with one or groups of parents without having to send emails back and forth. This is a valuable tool for families who have children with disabilities or families of undocumented immigrants.

School districts can also use their digital signage systems to broadcast important safety-related information. This could include information about upcoming fire drills or tornado warnings, as well as safety-related legislation that affects educators, school counselors, school boards and other staff members. This can help ensure that all stakeholders are up to date on the latest requirements. This is an excellent way to help prevent miscommunication and confusion in a time of emergency.

7. Encourage Reporting

School safety concerns don’t just include threats of violence. Physical injuries such as heavy backpacks, food allergies, slips and falls are also common issues that affect student safety. In fact, many of these can be prevented by putting in place initiatives such as providing first aid kits and ice packs at all times and making sure there are spare EpiPens available.

In addition to these proactive measures, schools need to encourage workers and students to report anything suspicious or worrying that they might see around the school. This will help ensure that any problems are dealt with as quickly as possible. This will also give the students and workers a sense of security because they know that their concerns are being taken seriously.

All school personnel should be trained to recognize warning signs of violent incidents and how to report them, as well as best practices for responding to these incidents. This includes school resource officers (SROs), school secretaries, custodians and bus drivers. Training in school threat assessment and emergency planning is also beneficial. Many local law enforcement agencies have partnerships with schools to provide these trainings. These partnerships can be helpful in establishing relationships that support the safety and security needs of both schools and the local community.