The month of May is recognized as School Safety Month. During the month, there are many ways that schools might participate in bringing more of a focus to the safety and security of their students and the school community. However, beyond just May, there needs to be an intentional focus on school safety every day of the year. By involving the right people in the conversation, continuing to evaluate and update school procedures, and exploring new resources made available through technology, we can be better prepared.
As we have seen over the past couple of months and unfortunately, on too many occasions each year, tragic events have occurred in schools. These events impact not just the school community, but people from around the world are saddened and are often left wondering what could have made a difference. It brings a heightened awareness of the importance of safety and taking precautions.
Tragic events also raise questions and concerns that should regularly be considered, such as:
- Is there a better procedure that could be followed?
- Is there a different safety plan that needs to be in place?
- How often do the safety procedures need to be evaluated?
- And should evacuation drills and other types of emergency response drills be done in our schools?
- What is the procedure for alerts?
- How can we more effectively and efficiently communicate with each other in school, to students’ families and the school community?
These are some of the many questions that are asked by educators and parents.
It’s important to realize that what works for one school or school District may not necessarily be the best option for another. This is where we see exactly how critical communication is. We also must involve the right people in these conversations in order to provide a safe learning environment for our students and educators.
Communicating and connecting with other educators is how we learn and grow.
Because this is an important issue, we engaged in a Twitter chat with a theme on school safety so that we could ask important questions to a larger audience.
When schools focus on their safety plan, it is important that they invite people who can bring different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives to the conversation. Beyond connecting within just the school community, it’s important to have a broader connection with local schools or even connect with different networks of schools throughout the country.
We can learn what other schools are doing, find schools which may be similar to ours and learn what is working for them. We also may find schools that are having similar challenges as us and we can work together and collaborate to come up with a plan that will benefit the students in our schools.
The important thing is to keep the collaboration and communication open, to continue to evaluate and be open to new ideas, but with the mindset that we will always need to reflect, reevaluate and aim to improve and prepare as best as we can.
Gathering ideas to grow on
Many educators joined in the recent Twitter conversation with Pikmykid and some of the key points expressed in the chat may resonate with a lot of people.
Think about your school and the safety plan you have. Think about these questions: What does your school have in place that helps you to feel more secure? Has your school changed its plan this school year or started to re-evaluate it based on recent events? What concerns do you have? Just a few areas that are worth considering as you think about your school and learning environment.
During the Twitter chat, we focused on three questions:
- What has been a change in your school’s safety plan that has made a difference?
- What would make educators and students feel safer at school?
- How have you seen innovation help make schools safer?
We thought we would share some of the responses that seemed to share common themes and ideas. There were participants with different roles, locations and experiences who joined in and shared their thoughts.
Here are some of the key takeaways from a few of the participants:
Pikmykid: When evaluating your safety plan it’s often helpful to…
- Identify gaps where students & staff may be vulnerable.
- Consider solutions that have proven results.
- Implement changes sooner, rather than later!
Laura Steinbrink, an educator from Missouri shared that her school “has many safety features already in play, so our focus is more on helping students self-regulate and making sure that we are present in the hallways and alert for anything that may occur.”
Victoria Thompson, a K-12 Industry Executive and former STEM educator from Washington said, “Honestly, a big change that was made in the past was ACTUAL INPUT FROM EDUCATORS. Talking about what was reasonable/unreasonable, talking about communications…it wasn’t perfect, but it made a positive difference in a way that made SENSE for the school.”
As to what would make educators and students feel safer at school, Teresa Engler, a tech coach from Pennsylvania listed “Visible resource officers, locked doors, frequent review of emergency plans, emergency communication like one call or all text to alert people of an emergency, coordination/communication with local officials, and having a secure system in place with increased entrance into buildings. It is important to have “routinely practiced procedures to prepare for such potential events so our students will be ready.”
At Pikmykid, we’ve heard so many recent stories of educators working hard to make everyone feel safe at school! Paying attention to EdTech platforms that abide by safety experts’ advice has been huge, like following Alyssa’s Law requirements.
It is important to really focus on communication. Joel Leal, a principal from Texas said “Every situation is different, so the conversations we’ve been having is that this is not a one-size-fits-all. You’re going to have to make decisions in the moment with the information you have. That’s why using technology to communicate is very important.” Joel believes that “Frequent, open conversations about safety and what to do in different situations are essential to increase everyone’s safety.”
Beyond the communication and collaboration, we also need to consider the changing technologies that become available and the innovation behind them.
To provide the best resources for our schools, we have to continue to adapt with the changes that schools are seeing and the challenges being faced. Through innovative technologies and tools like Pikmykid, we are able to provide more for our students and our schools that can promote safety and security.
Having something that all members of the school community can rely on is essential. Amanda Thomas, an elementary educator from South Carolina, shared that “the use of a new district app for parents with important updates, school closures, and COVID related decisions has been incredibly helpful.” At Pikmykid, this is our mission. We love helping schools to:
- Account for every student going home safely
- Verify the right person picks up the right kid
- Give staff emergency tools to feel safe
- Communicate with parents quickly
- View insights on safety & dismissals
Many in the chat agreed on the importance of that home-to-school connection.
Victoria Thompson shared that she is “a fan of instant family communication whenever something happens at school that may be pertinent to family matters or their child. Even things like 2-hour delays due to snow can be communicated in various ways to families.”
Another participant shared, “The use of social media and apps dedicated to school safety has made a major difference. It has allowed parents, students, educators, and police the ability to have a streamlined communication system.”
Being in a space where questions can be asked, ideas can be shared and support can be provided is important. Having a chat focused on school safety enabled participants to learn from one another and to make new connections. Learning from educators around the world will help us to continue to improve our practice, to bring about change and to stay informed of innovations that can help to alleviate some of the challenges faced and concerns that we have for our schools.
Some of the most brilliant innovations came from noticing a gap & taking small steps to fix it. Making changes can feel uncomfortable, but shifting our processes is vital to solving safety issues. We all need encouragement to try.
Pikmykid is one of many valuable tools to help us innovate how we keep students and staff safe at school. Many schools struggle with dismissal processes that waste time, leave students vulnerable, and exhaust staff and faculty. Pikmykid is the leading safety and dismissal platform that empowers schools to simplify dismissal without the need to purchase, install, or support additional hardware.
With Pikmykid, schools can trade in their outdated methods for a combination of dismissal management, safety and emergency tools, parent messaging, and real time reporting that keeps your staff happy and students accounted for. No more long car lines, endless front office calls, or missing students – just one powerful platform that allows schools to focus on what really matters – learning.
You can get started with Pikmykid by scheduling a personalized demo. You’ll see how the platform can help you transform your everyday dismissals to be safer and implement an emergency alert system to increase your school safety as well.