Every school is required to have its own personalized comprehensive safety plan to ensure that the highest levels of school security and student safety will be implemented. It also pays to plan ahead so that when an emergency does strike, everyone will know exactly what to do. So if you're in the process of preparing a school safety plan, here are some tips that could help you out:
- Review your school district's guidelines. Procure a copy of school safety regulations and guidelines that your school district issues. These guidelines will brief you on what safety factors must be taken into account, by law. These will also serve to assist you in constructing your own particular school's necessary safety plan, and to help you make sure that every possible means of ensuring student safety will be covered.
- Learn the different safety areas to be covered. School safety plans don't just refer to the actions to be done during school accidents and emergencies. They must also cover other aspects such as discipline policy (covering truancy, rewards for good behavior, suspension and expulsion), school security, drugs and violence (including bullying prevention), campus visitor policies, school transportation (covering private cars and school buses) and recess guidelines. Generally, your school safety plan should cover both risk reduction/prevention, and emergency response. It pays to form a safety committee (composed of faculty and school staff members who have had years of experience working at the school). Together, you may think of all possible safety scenarios that you'd need to plan for, based on risk analysis and previous school incidents.
- Do hazard identification. One of the most important things that your school safety plan must be based on is the school's physical environment. With the school safety committee, assess your school buildings, entrances, exits, corridors, and all the rooms (including storage rooms) to check for safety hazards. Walk through the entire school, especially during normal class days, and closely observe potential hotspots for school accidents. Also, it's important to be aware of current safety risks that may pose a threat to your school; one relevant example is the possibility of a flu outbreak happening at your school - what procedures should be undertaken once this happens? Base your plans on existing federal guidelines and also action plans of other schools.
- Disseminate the information. Once you've prepared a comprehensive school safety plan, make sure that the entire school staff and student body is aware of it. Conduct regular safety drills (these drills should be developed with the collaboration of professionals, for example, county preparedness officials and an emergency response agent). Disseminate information through posters and special class lectures; train all faculty members and school safety officers on how to lead the emergency procedures.
- Take advantage of available resources. There are several online sources that provide templates of school safety plans. These are very convenient to use. You just have to edit it to customize it according to your school's specifics. There are also websites that show checklists of school safety factors that you'd need to take into account, along with an assessment exam that would help you determine if your school safety plan is adequate.
- Get ideas from other schools. It's a good idea to study the safety plans of other schools within your district to get the basic knowledge of how to prepare one. Some government agencies also offer grants and free training on this matter.
Planning and preparation are always vital to limit the damage a potential hazard could create. This is especially true for schools, where there are a lot of possible risks, and where there are a lot of young people who need to be guided on what to do when one of these risks become reality. The key is to make sure that your school safety plan is realistic and effective. Hopefully the tips above would help you out! Good luck!