How to Keep Students Safe in the Age of Active Shooters
After a dangerous 2018 for our students and schools, debates have renewed about school safety programs and what needs to be done to protect our students. Proposed solutions run the gamut, including metal detectors, door barricades, bulletproof backpacks ALICE active shooter training, better active shooter drills, and more. While these tools can play a key role in student safety, what districts and schools also need is a robust safety plan capable of warding off danger on multiple fronts.
An effective school security plan covers three primary areas: Awareness, Incident management, and Recovery. (You can easily remember this acronym as AIR because these days, safety is every bit as vital as oxygen.)
Here’s how your school can protect students from harm in the face of an unanticipated threat, like an active shooter incident.
The key to improving safety in schools is training students, staff, teachers, and parents to spot danger early. One way to keep your community informed is to create a safety awareness center where you can post all types of safety information, such as ways to prevent violence and classroom safety tips. You can also share relevant and timely safety messages via your communication channels like Twitter, Facebook, and email newsletters.
You cannot predict how people will react during a crisis, when adrenaline floods their system, activating their fight-flight-freeze response. Most school related incidents are over within minutes, so every second counts. Don’t leave your teachers and students panicked and scrambling to google answers on how to respond to an incident. Give your school the gift of extra minutes during an emergency by practicing your safety procedures on a regular cadence to ensure your teachers can quickly guide their students to safety. In addition to practicing safety procedures, you should also provide your teachers with a quick and easily way to access digital plans, that are accessible with or without an internet connection, and step-by-step emergency checklists, exit routes, and your school’s specific protocols.
It’s also vital to have reliable, two-way communication when your schools are on lockdown for an active shooter or other emergency event. Be sure to have some way to keep teachers connected to administrators, local law enforcement, and each other until the threat has been handled. Instead of relying solely on a few people with walkie-talkies, empower all your teachers, staff, and students to take an active role in keeping each other safe by offering them an easy way to contribute via a computer or any mobile device.
Every weekday, parents say goodbye to their child and send them off to school, trusting that administrators and educators will keep them safe. While you can’t control the actions of disturbed individuals or predict exactly when danger will strike, you can take active steps to better protect your students. During an emergency, teachers should leverage digital rosters to keep track of everyone in their charge, ensuring that no child gets separated from the group, hurt, or worse. Give your teachers and staff the safety tools they need to improve classroom safety and respond quickly and effectively to any crisis.
If you would like to learn how a comprehensive school safety and security platform can help you strengthen your safety protocols, practice your emergency responses, prevent potential threats, and respond to any crisis, download our consideration guide.