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Safety Blog

Are You Providing Peace of Mind for Parents of K-12 Students?

12.30.16

The refrains of Dr. Seuss may be heard in your grade school hallways, “Big P, little p… What Begins with P?” Reading and writing the alphabet, and much more, are what parents want to focus on regarding education – they don’t want to be worrying about whether their children are safe as they recite “painting pink pajamas.”

Parents, planning and preparation: three things beginning with “P” that your administration can prioritize to offer peace of mind for the families in your district.

You have already put many hours and resources into your school district’s safety planning and preparation, but have you communicated that information to the parents of your students? As educators, you know better than perhaps anyone that parents need to feel confident schools are safe places for their children.

What Parents Need to Know about School Safety Measures

As you well know, school safety plans and preparedness can be extremely detailed, extensive and a bit overwhelming. Parents don’t necessarily need to know all the nitty gritty details, but they should have a basic understanding of what your district is doing to keep their children safe for every one of those 180 days their lives are in your hands.

Various sources, such as Education World, healthychildren.org and others often share tips for parents on how to stay informed of the safety measures in place at their child’s school. Based on these tips, here are 10 questions parents may want to know about your school’s safety.

  1. Is there a plan in place to reduce risk or prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from a crisis situation?
  2. Are there specific emergency plans in place, such as for a fire, blizzard, bomb threat, or armed intruder?
  3. Who is in charge of updating or keeping the safety planning documents current? Does someone “own” school safety or serve as the go-to safety person?
  4. Do staff members know how to respond according to the school safety plan’s established procedures and guidelines?
  5. Does regular emergency preparedness staff training occur? And, how often do school officials and safety experts meet to discuss safety procedures?
  6. Are there good relationships/coordination between the school and local first responders?
  7. Are the students adequately taught safety procedures? How are students trained on what to do in an emergency?
  8. What do school administrators and local law enforcement require of parents during emergency situations?
  9. How will parents be notified of an emergency at school? What do parents need to know about parental access during emergencies, meet-up locations and reunification?
  10. Can parents be involved in school safety prevention efforts?

A little knowledge goes a long way in creating confidence for parents (which means fewer headaches).

Communicating Safety Plans to Parents

While the beginning of the year is the ideal time to communicate the answers to these questions, it’s always better late than never – and occasional reminders can be valuable as well. Be sure to keep parents apprised of any major changes in your plans and procedures, or simply refresh their knowledge from time to time.

Here are a few different ways you could consider communicating safety plan information to parents:

  • In your annual welcome packet
  • In your handbook
  • At a parent’s night or open house
  • In your online parent portal
  • In a parent newsletter

And, when faced with those questions about your school’s emergency operations plan and other safety planning documents, remember NaviGate Prepared’s Safety Plan Wizard has everything you need to get your plan compiled and compliant and to keep it current.

Are there certain things about your school’s safety planning you make a point to share with your students’ parents?

If so, please comment below and share with your fellow educators.

7 thoughts on “Are You Providing Peace of Mind for Parents of K-12 Students?”

  1. I think our District is up front with parents about our rules, plans, etc. Without revealing items that could disrupt that safety, we also work well with the local paper and law enforcement to be as transparent as possible. Staff are also notified and kept up to date with emails, annoucements, and meetings.

  2. As being in the same district as Chad Leggett, I would concur with his statement. We are pretty up front with parents in the district and there is constant communication between the building principals, central office, and our parents especially when it comes to safety. I believe that we do put safety as a top priority in the district and are constantly looking for loop-holes in it to improve upon it.

  3. The fine line between the knowledge of the safety plan, or ignorance of the same, by students and parents, and even staff, is
    that it’s not a true or viable safety plan if every detail is common knowledge. There should be levels of knowledge to the safety plan and contents. We never know who is going to be the perpetrator.

  4. I think it’s important to make sure that all parents are given opportunity to understand how we communicate when an active event is taking place and, how to respond to it effectively. A recent event locally (Ohio) showed some parents via social media upset that they heard through that channel rather than an all-call. They were clearly uninformed about how their child was being kept safe. I’m sure there will always be a low % of parents who miss a call or don’t quite grasp the plans but this should give schools a great platform to change that and, educate why their plans are in place and maybe take on some of the parental perspective to integrate in future plan structures.

  5. With everyone on social media today getting timely accurate information to parents is more important than ever. The most important factor in disseminating information is that it needs to be accurate. We need to resist the urge to get something out quickly before we have taken the time to make sure that the message is correct and that it conveys what we want it to convey.

  6. We are beginning a process to provide periodic reminders to parents of our emergency processes, not details, but general process. This includes the fact that we do have a plan, we do practice the plans, how we will communicate with them in an emergency and what we expect from them (stay home, stay informed and stay ready).

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