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.
Is there a plan in place to reduce risk or prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from a crisis situation?
- Are there specific emergency plans in place, such as for a fire, blizzard, bomb threat, or armed intruder?
- 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?
- Do staff members know how to respond according to the school safety plan’s established procedures and guidelines?
- Does regular emergency preparedness staff training occur? And, how often do school officials and safety experts meet to discuss safety procedures?
- Are there good relationships/coordination between the school and local first responders?
- Are the students adequately taught safety procedures? How are students trained on what to do in an emergency?
- What do school administrators and local law enforcement require of parents during emergency situations?
- 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?
- 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.