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5 Essential Safety Audit Steps States are Taking This School Year

Carolyn Vento
August 4, 2022
Recent tragedies have sent lawmakers on a mission to find and improve inadequacies in school safety and security plans throughout the country. The mission may be the same, but the approach varies from state to state. Some states are focusing more on mental health awareness, while others are improving physical safety features such as door locks.
 
Whether your state is mandating a large number of specific safety audits or simply recommending some, it’s important to stay up-to-date with current trends in school safety in order to protect your school community at the highest levels possible.
 
CrisisGo is always watching the latest steps that schools are taking to protect students and staff. By highlighting some of these steps, we can offer you ideas to incorporate into your safety plans even if they aren’t required.
 
Here are 5 essential steps in the safety audit process that states are taking this year:
 
  1. Checking exterior doors.
    An extensive list of safety audit requirements was announced for the new school year in Texas. The actions that must be taken by all public schools include mandatory drills and threat assessment team member training. However, the most notable guidance may be that officials must ensure that each exterior door on over 8,000 Texas school campuses closes and locks. Then, local officials will have to conduct exterior door sweeps at least once a week. This act is meant to aid in stopping intruders from entering buildings.

  2. Considering panic alarms.
    Alyssa’s Law calls for the adoption of silent panic alarm systems in school buildings that allow school staff members to discreetly send alerts directly to local law enforcement during emergencies. Following the lead of New Jersey and Florida, New York has signed this law into action. Specifically in New York, schools will be required to consider panic alarms as part of their safety plans. After careful consideration, many schools will most likely be on board with this added layer of protection. You can research the positive benefits of panic alarms and think about adding them to your school safety plans, even if your state hasn’t adopted Alyssa’s Law yet.

  3. Adopting reunification plans.
    Reunification after an emergency can be chaotic without the right plans. In Florida, a bill was signed that includes a requirement for school boards to adopt family reunification plans in the event of an evacuation. These plans will ensure that parents and guardians understand what is expected of them and their children in the event of an emergency, and that they will be reunited as quickly and efficiently as possible. You may not yet have a reunification plan in place for your school or district, but it’s important for campuses of all sizes. We have seen with current events how traumatic the aftermath of a tragedy can be, so planning in advance for reunification is crucial to everyone’s safety and mental health.

  4. Creating threat assessment teams.
    Schools have been focusing on mental health awareness due to an increase in violent behavior. A way to combat this problem is to create teams of professionals who can monitor problems and offer solutions. In New Jersey, a bill will require that local boards of education create threat assessment teams that consist of teachers, administrators and a law enforcement liaison to help identify students who may be at risk of engaging in violent and harmful acts, and to establish strategies to intervene with those students. Think about what strategies are in place at your school district to manage mental health. Suggest forming threat assessment teams if you don’t have them, even when not part of a mandate, as they will improve the well-being of your school community.

  5. Putting a school resource officer in every school.
    School resource officers (SROs) are sworn law-enforcement officers who work, either full or part-time, in school settings and have been specially trained to work with children. SROs are valuable, dependable resources that can help with a wide variety of these safety topics. In Kentucky, a new bill required SROs on every school campus by Aug. 1, 2022. Unfortunately, even with this requirement, there will not be an SRO at every school as students come back to class due to a lack of funds and personnel. If you would like to protect your school by hiring SROs but need funding, you should research the many limited-time safety-related grants that are currently available to schools.
These examples of steps states are taking to protect schools give insight into what all schools need to be safe. Whether you have strict regulations, strong recommendations, or vague guidelines in your state for school safety measures and audits, CrisisGo is here to help. We currently offer Safety Audit, which is a versatile tool that saves time and ensures compliance by helping organizational safety leaders that need to collect multiple types of safety data while managing many responsibilities. In addition, we have custom-designed a safety tool for Texas, with all of the state-required forms already loaded into the system. The safety of your school community depends on careful considerations made during the audit process for this school year.
 
Comment below with steps you are adding to your plans to foster the safest and best school year yet.

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