In the recent past we have seen some increased focus on school safety and consequently, school budgets across the board have been ramped up to accommodate increased expenditure on school safety products.
There are many products that have crawled out of the woodwork, some of which are outright ridiculous to be considered for a school setting. Statistically speaking, students are more likely to be hit by lightning than to be shot in class, yet fear of mass violence is driving policy at every level today.
The knee jerk reaction from the K-12 community in the aftermath of any major incident is to focus on immediate action with a short-sighted approach. To not address the root causes of their safety concerns is regrettable. A safe school involves an entire community with stakeholders participating and contributing equally to ensure that our children have the best environment to thrive.
Do we want to create fortress-like schools with children who are drilled constantly, preparing for a doomsday scenario? The long term impact to the psyche of young minds going through such an environment is being actively debated today. The word “mental health” also gets thrown around a lot and gets treated as some monolithic problem with a simple solution. This a very nuanced subject in itself and needs to be addressed by professionals.
I would like to focus on one of the physical aspects of safety at schools which, if addressed, is the ‘lowest hanging fruit’. Dismissal automation software is a simple change, but can make a tangible difference to safety at schools. The results will be immediately apparent within the entire school community.
We all can agree without contention that every school needs to be a safe and secure place for our children. This means a closed campus with access controls and restricted entry points. Yet, when 2.30 pm rolls around, we open all the gates and let students stream out into the corridors and allow unrestricted access to anyone who chooses to enter the campus. Since a chain is only as strong as the weakest link, schools with the best security systems are vulnerable if they do not have good dismissal protocols in place.
A school may have a closed campus with 8-foot fences, surveillance cameras, and metal detectors, but without a secure dismissal process, we have a gaping hole in school safety. A good dismissal process not only ensures the safety of children but also reduces liability for schools. Keeping parents alerted about their children’s status during daily dismissals and also having a plan for emergency reunification after a crisis is one the most important tasks of the school leadership team.
School safety does not need to be a conversation about guns or armed guards. Before we get there, there are so many low hanging safety issues which can be resolved using cost-effective technologies. The back bone of such a system is a comprehensive school safety software which brings all these elements under a single platform fully integrated with the existing Student Information System.
Benefits of using a Dismissal Automation Software:
- Ensure safety of all children during dismissal
- Keep children indoors and safe till their ride arrives
- Real time alerts to parents when their child goes to an after school program
- Reduce wait time for parents in car line
- Streamline traffic flow around schools
- Encourage carpooling and walkers/bikers
- Track custody issues/ pick-up delegations
- Auditable records and reduces liability for schools, insurance discounts
Instituting the right dismissal automation software to manage the after-school dismissal process will make the most visible and tangible difference to the school’s safety protocols. It will engage the entire school community towards a common goal and bring a lot of attention on the leadership’s commitment towards school safety.