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How Staffing Problems Affect School Safety

Carolyn Vento
August 14, 2022
School districts throughout the country are facing more staffing issues than ever before due to teachers who are feeling under-appreciated and unsafe, bus drivers who are underpaid, mental health professionals who are swamped with an ever-increasing caseload, and school resource officers whose roles are being reassigned. In addition, experts predict that district leaders will have another challenging school year and should prepare by teaching school safety right away. With less staff to handle these obstacles, school communities are less prepared and more vulnerable.
 
Substitute teachers and others filling vacancies disrupt routines.
 
On the first day of school at Clark County School District in Las Vegas, the nation’s fifth-largest district, 62.5 percent of classrooms were covered by substitute teachers.  Some classes had administrators from the district’s central office covering them, and the temporary staff members fluctuate each day. Without a set faculty and sense of community, the safety plans and routines are in jeopardy. Many of the people who are filling in have not had the same safety training that certified teachers have had.
 
Students with temporary teachers may find themselves more lost than before. Just like adults, children feel more confident and secure when their daily activities are predictable and familiar. Not knowing who their teacher may be each day can lead to anxiety and other mental health issues for students.
 
Lack of mental health care providers in schools leads to smaller threat assessment teams.
 
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, students have faced unpredictability in their lives. School closures, sickness, and changing mandates have contributed to a variety of mental health issues. There’s a need for threat assessment teams to combat these issues. According to Education Week’s findings, at least 15 states don’t have a single district meeting the ideal ratio of 1 psychologist to 500 students, affecting almost 12 million kids. When school counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals have an overloaded caseload, students must wait longer to get the services they need. Threat assessment teams often lack the variety of professionals needed to be successful. There is also less time for the team to support teacher well-being and implement schoolwide programs for bullying, for example.
 
Having fewer school resource officers removes a layer of protection.
 
The shortage of school resource officers (SROs) stems from a general shortage of law enforcement officers. The Gresham police department in Oregon is one of many departments that need to re-assign its school resource officers to patrol positions this year. SROs are invaluable in schools as they have been specially trained to work with students and build meaningful relationships with them, which leads to less violence in schools. SROs provide a sense of security to students, parents, and staff members.
 
Since so many schools are below their target number for SROs, training has been given to other staff members in regards to school safety and the steps an SRO would normally take during an emergency. Some schools have even hired private security personnel to fill the gap, but the connections with students are insufficient in comparison to those made with trained SROs.
 
Bus driver shortages mean more children have to walk to and from school.
 
In Charlottesville, Virginia, new school walk zones are up and in place in the city. These zones have been implemented due to a bus driver shortage that is affecting schools nationwide. With more students walking, crossing guards are sure to be overwhelmed, leading to safety issues. Some students are leaving for school extra early because the bus can then make multiple trips.
 
Schools are being forced to try other methods in some areas, such as using smaller buses that don’t require a special license or having principals and other staff members get commercial licenses to drive the buses. Whenever people are distracted and overburdened with tasks, safety becomes more unstable.
 
There is much uncertainty this school year regarding staffing problems in schools. With the right digital safety platform, you can adapt to the problems quickly because any people coming into the building such as subs, new hires, or temporary SROs, can easily learn how to use it. With our digital threat assessments, you can effectively manage student behavior, even with a smaller team. With our wide range of customizable options, you can reach the highest level of safety for your school, even when staff members have time-consuming, unpredictable responsibilities.
 
Check out our video and see how CrisisGo can meet all your school safety needs, no matter what issues you face, with the most comprehensive safety platform, Safety iResponse.

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