9 Questions Parents Should Ask About School Safety
Today, schools and childcare centers are doing more than ever to prepare for emergencies. Parents have a right and a responsibility to be in the loop about the safety plans at their child’s school. From active violence to extreme weather, fire, police activity or bomb threats; schools are creating plans to respond to each individual scenario. Most schools take their duty of care for their pupils very seriously, but parents shouldn’t assume everything is being done correctly. Parents can respectfully approach emergency preparedness topics with their school’s administration by asking several simple questions:
- Is there an emergency plan?
- Parents should not ask to see the plan, as sharing emergency plans is bad practice, but they have a right to know that it exists, is regularly reviewed and updated, and is signed off upon by security experts.
- What type of training does staff receive?
- Parents should ensure that the school is prepared for all types of emergencies, that it trains all staff regularly, and doesn’t let new hires slip through the gaps.
- What is the schedule/cadence of drills?
- Parents who are aware of the drill cadence and routine can help reinforce learnings with their child(ren) and continue the saftey and security conversation outside of school.
- How are before/after school activities addressed?
- As children spend more and more time on campus for sports, extracurriculars, and events, parents should ensure that the school’s security plan and procedures covers off-hours activities.
- What happens if the school is evacuated, and where should I plan to reconnect with my child(ren)?
- During an evacuation, parents will be eager to get in contact with their child(ren). This includes knowing exactly where to expect reunification to occur.
- How do I securely access the school?
- Security-conscious parents should respect that schools require robust security procedures to govern access to facilities. Parents who are aware of protocols can help this process run smoothly and efficiently. Moreover, parents can better plan for another visitors, such as a relative or babysitter, who may need to physically come to the school.
- How will the school alert parents in the case of an emergency?
- Schools will often immediately notify parents during an emergency. Some parents may choose to customize how they receive alerts, such as adding the school’s phone or email address to the whitelist of a do-not-disturb feature or changing a ring tone to something unique. Parents may want to opt-in to alerts if the school offers different tiers of alert urgency.
- What info/curriculum will be provided to students and parents around safety?
- Issues of security can be confusing and upsetting to students, especially younger ones, and parents often like to contextualize or further discuss safety at home. This includes materials for parents who may want to get up to speed as well. How, when, and why this information is distributed is nearly as important as the information itself, and parents should be aware of what’s available and when it’s given to their child(ren).
- How is personal information handled?
- Data security is a critical aspect of this broader security conversation, and parents should be aware of what information is stored, how it is stored securely, and how it is used.
We recommend that parents approach this conversation seriously and with respect for the school and its administration. Almost all schools have spent time, effort and money preparing for an emergency, but many schools may still have work to do to complete the plan. Quality security doesn’t happen overnight; it is a product of collaboration, regular practice, and broad group awareness of the issues. Knowledge is power, and parent involvement can benefit both the family and the school.
To learn more about SecureEd’s services, contact us.