By Cheli Cerra
Schools are some of the safest places in our nation. As parents, we want all of our children safe. When you walk into a school, what are some visible indicators that you can look for to tell if it is safe? In a school, having the building and the surrounding property clean, well lit, and well maintained promotes a sense of safety and security. If a school is dirty or does not have well-lit corridors, take these indicators as “flags” of caution that security and safety may not be priorities. If the walkways around the schools are also not well-lit, especially for after-school programs and evening events, there is a chance that individuals could be injured because they might not be able to see where they are walking. Worse yet, someone could come onto school property without being seen and harm the students or the premises.
It is extremely important for schools to control who has access to the campus and its students. Preventing strangers from coming onto the school grounds, who do not have any business being there, is a very important safety priority. Having the school staff, parents, and students know the school rules are a very important safety priority as well. When everyone knows what is expected, there is less of a chance that a problem will happen. An example would be the arrival and dismissal procedures for a school. Dropping a child off sounds like an easy task. However, when there are 1500 children and all are being dropped off at the same time, even a simple procedure such as this can create many problems. A safe school addresses the drop off and pick up procedures, as well as other important rules in a parent handbook that is given to all of the students. Does the school that your child attends have a parent handbook where rules are addressed? A quality school will have a parent handbook that will address, school policy, procedures and rules. When everyone knows the rules, everyone knows what is expected, and there are few, if any, emergencies.
School safety, however, goes beyond what can be seen on a tour of the school facilities. For a school to be a safe learning environment, the faculty, staff, students, and parents involved with the school must have safety and security measures in place to handle any type of emergency that might occur. It is your right to ask questions concerning these regulations, and it is your responsibility to make sure that if they do not exist, that with the help of the entire school community, these plans and procedures are put into place.
IS YOUR SCHOOL SAFE? AN ESSENTIAL CHECKLIST
School safety is everyone’s business can you say YES to the following questions? •The school appears to be clean and hazard-free. (YES/NO)
•The school has a safety coordinator who is responsible for maintaining a safe and healthy environment. (YES/NO)
•The school has a “safe” way for students to report a conflict, crime, or crisis (especially if another student might be involved). (YES/NO)
•The school has a crisis prevention plan in place. (YES/NO)
•The school has procedures in place to respond quickly if and when a crisis situation occurs? And, the school has informed parents, teachers, students, and the community what the procedures are. (YES/NO)
•The school has a fair and consistent discipline procedure. (YES/NO)
•The school has counselors and psychologists available to students in need. (YES/NO)
•The school involves the community, teachers, students, staff, and parents in these safety efforts. (YES/NO)
Investigating the answers to these questions will give you a better understanding of your child’s school.
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